Saturday, September 23, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday!

The baby turns 8 today, which means he's definitely not a baby anymore!

It's kind of ironic that the most extroverted of the family is also mostly nonverbal! C continues to fill our days with laughter and giggles, joy and smiles, a few words and phrases here and there, and always - dependence on God.
This boy loves being the life of the party! He also loves lawnmowers, tractors, cars, balls, cookies, and playing with J and Tweety.
 Happy birthday to the cutest eight-year-old I know!
As is tradition, here is his year-in-review video!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Hilariously Horrible Vacation

I am possibly exaggerating when I say our recent camping trip vacation was horrible, but it definitely wasn't perfect! However, the less-than-perfect elements had us laughing the whole time, so I guess we could also call it the Hilariously Awesome vacation - if by awesome we mean that we laughed like crazy and that it was a camping trip we'll never forget!

It all started when Kara, Matt's sister, asked earlier this year if we wanted to go camping with them. Matt and the older kids sometimes go tent camping, but I haven't gone in years. However, we decided to give it a try as a family this year.

Originally C was going to come along, but after seeing his dislike for Camp Barakel, we decided to let him keep his daily routine and get spoiled at Grandpa and Grandma's house. He liked that a lot! And, once we got into the very much less-than-perfect camping trip, I was really glad that C had stayed behind in the comforts of non-camping.

So, the trouble began when we had to pick a camping date months in advance in order to get a camping spot. Of course when you pick dates months in advance, you have no idea what the weather will be like. Well, we got one of the rainiest, coldest two days of the summer! And, if you know me, I really, really hate being cold!

If you want a rundown of the "horrible" elements that had us laughing:

  • setting up the tent in the rain Thursday afternoon
  • finding out via wet sleeping bags that the tent leaks Thursday night
  • trains rumbling past the camp site (and blowing their horns) after midnight
  • being cold - we felt a little homeless all day Friday as we looked for dry, warm places to hang out!
  • heavy winds the first night that had our tent bending in almost to our noses!

During the heavy downpours, some of the group chose to work out. And some of us chose not to!
Since this was an RV park, there weren't a lot of spots to find shelter out of the rain. Most everyone was nice and dry in their campers, which we didn't have! We also didn't have a big enough tent for everyone to hang out in; plus, as previously mentioned, one of the tents leaked! So the awning/porch connected to the bathrooms was our shelter!
Not what I want to see!
When it wasn't too windy or cold, the pavilion by the pond worked out for shelter! Farkle was the game of choice. Of course the kids loved all the crazy things you could say using "Farkle" in a sentence!
A rainy morning meant Cops & Doughnuts was the perfect spot for breakfast!
Pretty much the entire Friday was spent trying to find dry, warm places to hang out! Bowling, hanging out in the break room for the staff at the RV park, coffee at Biggby, games...not exactly the same as hanging out at the beach like we'd planned, but oh well! We laughed lots!
So nice that the kids are old enough to help with food prep and clean up!
We were so, so happy to see the sun!!!!
The morning before we headed home, it was finally warm enough to go to the beach. I thought it was way too cold to get in the water though!
a little game of Kubb
So there you have it! The hilariously horrible vacation was really quite hilariously awesome!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Camp Barakel

One of our favorite places is Camp Barakel! Over the years Matt has occasionally been a speaker at Barakel. The first time he was a summer speaker, we all tagged along. That was in 2011. Camping at Barakel as a family was a unique, fun experience. We loved it!

Well, most of us loved it. C did not, so that was the first and last time we experienced Barakel all together. Until this past week.

Matt was the speaker, and after much discussion, we decided to try the family experience again. This time we brought Jenna along for extra help with C, and we planned for me and the kids to leave early with Jenna if C didn't like camp.

Here's a little peak at the week...

My favorite Barakel speaker!
 The first full day at Barakel dawned with a clap of thunder and rain, so the game room was the main attraction for that soggy day!
 C thought air hockey was hilarious!
 These guys take chess very seriously!
 A game that involves rolling balls in a box? Yes, C would like to play that game over and over!
The second day was gorgeous, so those who were old enough got to try out the zipline. No surprise that I had one unhappy 10-year-old who wanted to be 12!
Here are the zipline conquerors - at least Tweety got to document the event even if she was too young to try out the thrill
 C didn't seem too bothered by the fact that he was too young to zip
C's favorite spot was the waterfront! J could've enjoyed swimming in the deep water, but he wanted to spend all his time with C. These brothers melt my heart!
 While I spent a lot of time with C keeping him happy, Jenna made sure Tweety had a good time!
So, as depicted in the pictures, C had some fun moments. But, sadly, he once again was not super fond of camp. And he was even less fond of sleeping at camp. Not sure what we would have done without his music phone.
Jenna, Tweety, C, and I ended up heading home early. I was a little disappointed but not too surprised, and we're thankful for the many good memories we made. Barakel is an amazing place full of people who love Jesus and love kids. (And they spoil their speakers!! They were so kind in working to provide any accommodations we might need to make C more comfortable at camp.)

So we had a fun couple of days with memories to hold on to. Now to catch up on sleep!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nebraska Comes to Michigan

We don't get many visitors here in Michigan, probably because Michigan isn't really on the way to anywhere. It's more of a final destination.

So, it was with great gladness and joy that we welcomed my older brother and his family to our house for a few days. They do church planting in the Sandhills of Nebraska (ranching country; grass-stabilized sand dunes/desert), so Michigan was a fun change of scenery for them.

Love cousin time and family time!
 Played lots of rounds of Kubb!




Friday, July 21, 2017

Family Vacation {As in...the WHOLE Family}


Mid-July found us in Branson, MO, with most of my entire family - my siblings and their families and my mom.

If you want to do the math, that's 11 adults and 21 kiddos - 32 people total! Sadly, my youngest brother and his wife weren't there, but they had a good excuse. My SIL gave birth to their first baby the day after our reunion started!

As always, it was a blast to vacation together with family (although we always miss dad tremendously). Usually when we're all together, we meet up at home in Kansas, and while there are logistics involved in those family gatherings, that's nothing compared with the logistics needed to take 32 people on vacation! My SIL Krista worked wonders in organizing everything with mom.

This is the second year mom has gifted this reunion to the family, and it was our first year to take C. I plan to write another post about that!

So, before I inundate this space with pictures, the recap goes like this:
  • Wednesday night we all arrived in time for supper and swimming
  • Thursday - Silver Dollar City all day
  • Friday - boating/tubing/kayaking all day
  • Saturday - more Silver Dollar City during the day and Moses at Sight and Sound Theatre in the evening
  • Sunday - water park / buffet supper at Golden Corral (seriously the biggest highlight for some of those boys!)
  • Monday  - the long trek home (long for us Michiganders - we were a little jealous of the Kansans' shorter drive!)
The trip begins...lots of stops on this leg of the trip.
The condos we stayed at were beautiful - very close to the pool, lake access, completely furnished with anything we could need.
Here's the whole gang at Silver Dollar City!
 C liked watching some of the water rides.
 He was a pretty big fan of amusement park food!
 Don't worry...a lot of sharing happened with these funnel cakes. Each kid didn't get a whole one!
 J and one of the cousins
 Matt and J ready to tube
 Tweety tubing with a cousin
 Mom and me



Mom with all the grandkids - just missing the newest one!
Sometimes, after a long day in the sun, a little Tolkien in movie form is in order!
Ever since he saw a commercial, this boy has been dying to try Mac 'n Cheetos at Burger King. Since friends from church gave the kids some treat/travel money, we told him he could get his wish! We stopped at a Burger King on the way to Branson, but they were sold out (who knew they were so popular), but on the way home, we found a Burger King that had them in stock. He was happy!
 When Tweety travels, her menagerie of cats tags along!
We had an amazing time and are so thankful to mom for such a fun family gift! The only downside is that these vacations make me miss  mom and the rest of the family so much!