Thursday, July 25, 2013

Church Camp 2013

We have just returned from Church Camp and it was a wonderful time spent with a great group of kiddos and adults falling deeper in love with the Lord.  To witness kids on fire about Jesus is an amazing feeling and one that left my heart filled with so much hope.

Camp was filled with water slides, swimming in the pool, blow up obstacle courses, jump houses, crafts, activities, bible study, hikes, praise/worship, mail call, making homemade ice cream, gaga ball, ping pong, friendships, prayer time, hayrides, county fairs, nature walks, quiet time and a hoe down with a real caller.

Emma begged to go to camp last year as a 5 year old, but she was not old enough.  Our church participates in 4 camps a year and this year we participated in the one that was for kids who have completed Kindergarten - 2nd grade.  There was no way my 6 year old was going to camp alone for half the week, so I prayed about it and went along as a cabin counselor. 

Emma was super excited when we arrived at camp and she found out she got to sleep on a top bunk.  The initial sight of the cabin made me a little nervous, but I got over it quick.

Sweet Lauren is one of our Praise Team members at church and she assisted me as a Junior Counselor which was a huge help.

Each day was jam packed with activities from 8 in the morning until 9 o'clock at night.  I was exhausted after chasing little girls around all day.  Every bible story was associated with an activity that had great meaning and gave the kids a better understanding, wonderful.

These are the babies at camp and they were all so precious and sweet.  They were so proud of their initial batch of homemade ice cream.  These girls looked after each other all week long and provided each other comfort and encouragement on their first camp adventure.

Proud of that top bunk, can you tell?  This girl was such a trooper and I was so proud of her to be a first time camp kid.

I grew up going to church camp from 3rd grade thru high school and it is still some of the best memories of my entire life.  It was so special that I got to be a part of Emma's first time camp experience.  I was a little worried when I agreed to go and actually requested NOT to be in the same cabin with her so she could fully experience camp.  I actually thought I was going to be in a boy cabin, but it ended up that she was in my cabin, but you would have NEVER known she was my child.   She was a trooper, never hung on me, tried to sit in my lap or whined about a single thing.  She fully engaged in every activity and was such an independent little thing.

She was so proud of this pet rock that she made for her brother while we were away at camp.  She kept telling everyone he was her best friend and would love it.  This little face just screams happiness to me, this girl had fun.

Good ole pie eating contest and no hands were allowed on the table.  It was hilarious to watch these kids participate in this, some of them got on top of the table (ha ha).

Three of my little cabin mates ready for the Hoe Down. Before every activity we had role call and when they would say, "Cabin 3, are you here?"  My sweet girls would yell, "Cabin 3 says HOWDY!"  You would have thought they had been doing this for years.

Emma's 3 favorite things at camp were praise/worship, the hayride and small group bible study with your cabin everyday.

The hoe down was such a fun time with all of the kids and the 77 year old caller that came to teach all the dances, he was such a sweet little man.  I wanted to put him in my pocket and bring him home.

Yee Haw, look at them go.  So many cute dances they learned and so much fun was had the last evening at camp.

Blair and Emma became the best of buds at camp.  So crazy that we learned the Sunday before camp that these two were on the mountain together at ski school in Steamboat last Spring Break.  When Blair's parents picked her, her sister and twin brother up from ski school they kept telling their parents that they saw a boy and girl from church and the parents didn't believe them (ha-small world).

These two are quite the mess together and know how to have a good time.  Of course they were dreaming about Leigh-Leigh during the entire hoe down (silly girls).

This little finger light was a huge ordeal at camp.  The director had it on the first day at camp and she passed it on to someone she saw letting their light shine for Jesus.  Each child had to continue passing it on and tell the other person why they were getting it.  One of the sweet little girls gave it to Emma and she was beyond thrilled, by the time camp was over about 20 kids had worn the little ring. 

The last day of camp we took this group picture of the kids from our church and had a shirt signing.  These little troopers knew exactly what to do and walked around with Sharpies signing and getting signed.

It was an amazing honor to accompany these children to camp, share my love for Jesus with them, teach his word, serve as an example to them through my own actions, listen to their stories and answer their questions about what God has in store for them and their little life. 

To watch my own daughter be so excited about Jesus, share what he has done in her life,  sing with all of her heart to him and to have such a deep understanding of Christ filled me with an indescribable amount of JOY! When we left camp, she started asking me about returning next year and has not stopped talking about how much fun she had, singing all the camp songs and how much she loves Jesus.  No doubt in my mind that Emma Caroline will be attending camps for years to come and her little brother will soon join her. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Children's Musuem

Yesterday we visited the Children's Museum with our cousins before they head back to Colorado for a while.
Peyton and Emma are the best of buds and had a blast painting their faces into pink cats.

The sight of these 4 cousins piled in this car made me a little nervous of what is yet to come (ha ha).  I can not even imagine when they are all old enough to be running the roads together, they will keep me on my knees praying!

Gavin was in his element all day long and had the best time.  If the museum offered Kindergarten this boy would be enrolled next year, no matter the cost.  All of the hands on activities are right up his little creative alley. 

The museum was pure chaos with so many day cares and field trips, so I was unable to get many pictures but we sure did have a great day.   All the kids were sad to say goodbye, but praying we will all be back together soon.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Frio to the Hill Country

We spent the first part of the week in Garner, traded our river shoes in and headed for the JW Marriott for a little more fun in the sun. 
View from the balcony, by far this has been my favorite resort in Texas and we will definitely be going back for some rest and relaxation someday soon.   
I had been looking forward to arriving at the JW Marriott to finally meet my sweet friend Kim Watson and her precious family.  Kim and I met through our blogs and Matilda Jane a couple years ago and instantly connected because of our love for our kids, LV and life.  We had plans to meet this summer and it worked out for us to finally connect in the Hill Country. She is as wonderful as I thought she would be from all of our texting/emails/conversations and her family is as cute as can be.
We enjoyed spending the afternoon with the Watson family and the kids had fun building a pyramid with the Honky Tonk Kid, Aaron Watson.  If you look closely you will see that all the cups stacked are filled with water, it took them a while to finally accomplish this.   The two little boys by Emma joined us in the pool and the other two are the Watson boys. Not real sure where Princess Jolee Kate was when we took this picture, probably floating around talking to everyone (she is a social butterfly). Jack Jack and Gavin immediately hit it off in the pool and went to wrestling, Kim called this years ago about those two.

After we got out of the pool one evening we made smores and they were yummy we ate lots of smores on this trip.

We got to enjoy room service one morning and the kids thought it was the greatest thing ever. They  said it was a "royal feast rolled in on a royal table", again they have seen too many fairy tales. 

The kids enjoyed all of the water slides and went down by themselves, in groups of twos, threes and with me.  They also enjoyed the lazy river along with Tedra.

The days were so hot, we kept cool with frozen drinks by the pool and lots of SPF 70.

This little boy played his heart out and had a ball.  He loves the water and is close to being a swimmer,  no doubt he will join his sister on swim team next year. 
These three had a blast together while Tedra and I had some great girl time laying out, talking, laughing, dreaming and supervising.   All in all our trip to the Frio and Hill Country was a blast, relaxing and gave us lots to laugh and talk about.  I love this time away with my two kids and Emma was thrilled to have a friend along on this Texas-cation.  We are already looking forward to being river rats again next year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Garner State Park Fun

We took our annual summer trip to the Frio River this year and it did not disappoint.  The kids love Garner as much as they love any other vacation.   Daddy does not get to go with us because we take our family vacation in June and he can not take two vacations back to back, maybe one year we will just let this be our vacation because the kids really want Daddy to go.
Emma had been looking forward to Garner for months because she got to bring her friend Lauren along this year for some river fun.   Garner just seems to be alot more fun when you are surrounded by friends.  I brought one of my best friends with me and met one of my other besties there, can't beat that!  That cute little boxer is sweet Mona and the kids loved walking the dogs all over the camp grounds, those poor dogs were worn smooth out and I am certain they were happy to see us go.

Garner life is like no other life and something that both my children fully embrace, God's country.  Sweet Emma found a puddle of tadpoles on our hike down to the river one day and enjoyed playing with them. I think she was a little intrigued by how this guy would become a frog in 24 more days.

I love this little boy, but I also fell in love with this log that was floating down the river.  The kids had hours worth of fun playing with it too.

Floating and playing in the river all day long keeps a smile on this boys face.  Big fun to swim a little, float a little, ride a raft a little then get out and fish a little.

My sweet, wonderful amazing friend Darla who is the ring leader of the DiStefano family and planner of our Garner getaway every year.   When I got home I realized I did not take many pictures at all, so maybe she will share hers with me (at Momma Choles).
This would be sweet little Vincent on his first river trip at 10 weeks old and he was a TROOPER.  His Momma was my student as a 6th grader and my favorite student ever, thank God our paths crossed and we are now part of the DiStefano family.

Lauren did a great job embracing Garner for it to be her first time.  Between her and Emma, Gavin had three Momma's on this trip.  They were so excited when Gavin pulled this fish in that they caught all by themselves.  I heard Gavin scream, "yeah baby" and I turned around to look and they came running with this cute little perch. 

Lauren was sure brave to stand by Gavin while he was cane pole fishing, it was a sight to see.   You would have thought the boy was fly fishing the way he cocked that cane pole out and swung it forward into the water.   It was a bit scary and he was destined to hook someone, himself in fact.

Him in action to prove his fly fishing action and he was not slowing down a bit.  He would let his cork bob up and down about 2 times and then he was slinging it again, quite surprised a fish ever had time to get on that hook but he caught a few.  We might have to take a summer trip to Steamboat soon, so this boy can do some fly fishing in the river.

No trip to Garner is complete without a trip to the pavilion for the dance and a little bit of two stepping.  August danced with the girls and had a smile on his face the entire time.

Oh the Garner dance was something that Emma and Lauren seriously lost their minds about and acted like giddy teenagers.  It was cute for about the first 30 minutes then they were out of control laughing, making up songs, reapplying lip gloss and talking about kissing Leighton and August (Darla's college boys).  Seriously, they were screaming, laughing and whispering like they were 15.  I was in shock and kept asking how they even knew to act like that.  These two girls had the biggest crushes on the big boys and they were very open about it!

All day long they kept talking about going to the "ball" that night and acted out the dance floor scene with Gavin, where he would bow down to one knee, extend his arm and say, "may I have this dance?"  Clearly these kiddos have watched far too many fairy tales.  They were not disappointed when we arrived to the pavilion and they were dancing under a huge tree on a concrete dance floor opposed to a crystal ball (ha).  Poor Gavin passed out before we arrived, so Tedra held him the entire time.
I think it is pretty safe to say they love each other, love to two step, love Garner and love Leighton and August.
The big boys were really so sweet to them and treated them like little ladies on the dance floor.  They both danced with Daniel too, but I caught them talking about him being too skinny.   Those girls cracked us up all night, we were laughing till we were cried.

Cabin sweet cabin.  We loved where we stayed and will go back there for sure next year.  The owners were wonderful and the cabin was so super clean and cozy.   We had lots of belly laughs inside this little place.
We ended up pushing a full size and twin bed together for me and all 3 of the kiddos to sleep on.  The two window units running on high made for a good nights sleep for all of us.  Tedra was scared to death she was going to be carried away by scorpions, hilarious.  I came home wanting a window unit but our HOA won't allow it, darn!
What else does a librarian do on the river all day?  Soak up the sun and READ, love this girl more than life and our time together is precious.
Excuse the roughness from being outside on the river for 48 hours with no shower, but I loved this picture of me, my boy, the log and Garner.  We love, love, love Garner!  
Peace, Love & Dance ~ Garner State Park!  Oh and super silly girls too.

Poor Gavin was passed out when we went to take the traditional Garner picture, so here are my "Garner Girls".  

We had a wonderful time in Garner and spent our days in the Frio, roasting smores, eating PawPaw David's fried chicken, visiting the dance, going to Josh's, shopping at the Dry Fifty, eating at Momma Chole's, sitting around talking, listening to old country music on the jambox, walking the dogs and just enjoying each other.

My kids are already talking about next years trip to Garner and all the fun they are going to have.  So blessed and thankful that the DiStefano's include us in their 20+ year tradition in the Hill Country.