The Culprits

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Camp!

This is the time of year that the boys probably love the most. It's the time when they get to ditch their brothers and parents, to hang out with friends for a whole week at church camp! Since I have a high-schooler, a middle-schooler, and a pre-teen.....there are three different camps. That means that, for three weeks in a row, I only have 5 boys. Sigh. I'm finally starting to get....sort of, kind of, a little bit....used to my older kids going off in different directions, and not worry so much. That doesn't mean I like it, of course, but I do know that they are having a blast with all their friends, that they are in excellent hands, and that they are spiritually benefiting from their camp experiences, so that makes me happy for them.

Over the weekend, Seth came home from high school camp. He had such a blast, as usual. He got to play bass in the worship band all week long. My son is so cool. I was never that cool in high school. I just love when he comes home and talks my head off about how awesome camp was.

Then, this morning, I dropped Jarod off at church, so he could hop on the bus for his week of middle school camp.

Jarod was so happy his buddy was going. He's not quite the social butterfly that Seth is, and still isn't quite comfortable in his own skin yet. He was not about to hug his friend for a picture! Nor did his little friend want to hug Jarod for a picture. Nor did Jarod want to hug his mama in front of his friends. They were both way too cool for such things. So, naturally, I planted a big ole smooch on his cheek, in front of his friends, when I said good bye. Don't worry. It's character building for him to be embarrassed by his mama. Eventually he will succumb to the reality that I'm never not going to be embarrassing, and he'll just learn to my accept public displays of affection as a part of life, like Seth has. Because mamas are just embarrassing, but ya gotta love um anyway. Life lesson right there.

This is the massive group of middle schoolers (!!!holy moly and bless the youth leaders' brave souls!!!) heading off to camp today.

Got a picture of Jarod just about to step onto the bus. His little brothers were yelling very important reminders out to him, like, "Don't forget your sunscreen!" and, "Don't forget to eat!" and, "Don't forget to pray at night!"......

......which, of course, degenerated into, "Don't forget to go pee!", and "Don't forget to poop!", and "Don't forget to wipe!" Because everything comes down to those three things in the end, don't they? Especially if we're needing a topic for conversation at the dinner table. I assume that this embarrassed Jarod (ironic, considering they learned much of their humour from him), but I'm not sure because he disappeared under the window, way down in his seat, for some reason. Maybe he dropped something on the floor.

The bus didn't take off for a few minutes, and I had put an unfortunate end to the helpful camping hints, so the little boys entertained themselves another way, in the mean time. A friend pointed out how helpful my kids would be on a tropical island. They could pick coconuts and bananas for me.

I also left Seth at the church all day, today, to hang out with his friend and then to go to youth group later. I only have four boys today. It's so strange. I don't quite know what to do. Next week, I lose Micah to pre-teen camp. Boo-hoo. But, after he comes home, we'll be a whole family again. Soon after that, our refugee reading program will end, and school will start. Summer is flying by!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tea Time

My boys (the too-cool teenager excluded, naturally) decided to have a tea party. All on their own. I like tea. I've been drinking a lot of herbal teas lately. The boys, especially Jarod, have been drinking a lot of tea with me. Jarod, to be perfectly clear, was sure to inform me that they were NOT having a tea party, but were, in fact, having "tea time", which is vastly different. They even lifted their pinkie fingers and spoke with British accents the entire time. We didn't have any scones, so they ate popcorn instead. I made them watercress sandwiches, except that I was plum out of watercress, so they had to eat baby kale sandwiches. And they loved them! Weird. They did not, however, dress in their Sunday best, which I believe is proper etiquette for tea time. Or am I just thinking of the stereo-typical-girl-tea party? Nor did all of them come to tea-time fully dressed, and some were still in their PJs. And who knew that proper tea time etiquette included pinkie-finger-lifting while eating sandwiches? Not I! But what do I know about proper tea-parties? I mean....tea time. Proper etiquette, or no, this was a very fun, and very manly TEA TIME. Not tea party. Nope.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We Didn't Start the Fire

Since I know that my loyal readers (all 2 of you) never, ever tire of seeing endless pictures of our camping trips, I thought I would post a few more for your viewing pleasure. Earlier in the week, we loaded everyone up & went out again. We found a perfect spot along the creek, with a swimming hole. The water was the perfect temperature to cool a body off on a hot day, without freezing the bones. The boys & I pretty much stayed in that water the whole campout. The older boys spent much of their time floating down the creek (it was more like a small river) with their bodies, then pulling themselves back up the stream, against the currant, and against the big rocks, just to float back down again, all the while shouting, "WEEE!!!! OWWW!!! WEEEE!!! WOOO-HOOO!!" and, "OUCH!!! WEEEEEE!!!!" This painful entertainment went on for hours and hours. Even Seth, who claimed that he would rather have been somewhere else, hanging out with his friends, had himself a jolly good the stream, playing with (gasp!) his brothers....not that he would ever admit it to anyone. They invited me to join them but I declined. I had just as much fun watching them from my nice, calm, swimming hole, with the little boys....and I sustained fewer bruises. I know, every party has one.

Floating downstream...

Under the bridge....

Trying to drown Mommy

Fun with Daddy

Dousing big brother

Slap jack break...

Potty break....

Daddy & the big boys got a little target practice in.

During our campout, we saw several helicopters, with buckets of water, on the way to some distant forest fire.. so we assumed. On the last day of our campout, however, in the afternoon, we saw lots of smoke starting to come down the hills towards us from every direction. No rangers had come by to tell campers to evacuate, but we figured we had better start packing up anyway....just to be safe. We left and, after we had driven a few miles, we saw this:

It turns out that there had been three separate fires burning in the forest, for a couple of days, and that they all came together, on that last day, to create one 250-300 acre forest fire. Some homes in the national forest were threatened, but I think the fire was contained fairly quickly with no harm done to them. When we got home, a fire fighter friend of ours noted how it was a little too coincidental that there had been a forest fire, at the same time (& general area) that we were out camping. I can see how that would look a little suspicious, but it wasn't our boys who started it! This time....

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Series of Fortunate Events

Summer is a third of the way over. Sheesh. I blink and it's gone! I was going to caption all of my photos, but Blogger is being a stinker, so I'll just let you figure out which picture goes with which event, on the ones that I don't caption. My series of very fortunate events happened something like this:

 #1. My sweet, sweet Micah John had a birthday, and turned 10 years old. He is such a sweet, good-hearted boy. He makes me so happy and proud. Now I have 3 boys who are in the double-digits. Sigh.

#2. End of school happened, with lots of stress and cramming....but we got through it!

#3. Seth and I volunteered at our church's middle school end-of-school-year-party. Jarod attended and had a blast. Seth got to be with buddies who were also helping, so he had fun too. I...made it out alive.....and with a renewed respect and appreciation for the youth leaders in our church.  

#4. Somewhere around the end of May we went on a fishing/swimming day-trip into the mountains.

#5. A yard sale happened at some point. Helped us pay a few bills.

#6. Early June was mine and Justin's 18th wedding anniversary. Yes, that is a long time. Yes, we still like each other. To celebrate how much we like each other, we went to a movie, and stayed in a hotel (compliments of my church....I won the mother-load raffle prize of hotel, restaurant, and movie gift certificates, at our ladies' night in May). My awesome sister-in-laws stayed the night with the boys. Quite literally, the last time Justin and I got out together, alone, overnight, without the kids, was when I was in the hospital, giving birth to another kid. Doesn't quite count as a date. We badly needed this little rendezvous. Now we like each other even more. *Giggle*

#7. My dear cousin, Regina, and her kids, came for a visit. There were walks to the park, a trip to the river, late night talking, and watching folks fry green tomatoes, and charm bees. I wish she was still here.

#8. Went on the church's family camp out, for Father's Day weekend. Had lots of fun with friends.

#9. Came home for a day, so Justin could go to work, and I could cook and do laundry.

#10. Left for another camping trip the next day.

#11. Went to Justin's annual work picnic. First year we've gone without Seth. He was with a buddy. That is happening a lot these days.

#12. The boys and I started volunteering for Catch Life(, a Summer reading program for refugee kids. We just go to a specific neighborhood once a week, sit on a blanket with the refugee kids, bribe them with candy, and read stories to them for half an hour. It helps them with their English fluency skills, which become somewhat diminished in the Summer. I haven't taken any pictures because I don't want to make their parents uncomfortable. But these are the sweetest kids and are already working their way into our hearts after only 3 weeks of these short visits. The boys have fun playing with the kids at the park afterwards as well. There are also teenage boys there who like to kick a soccer ball around with Seth. It's a little uncomfortable still, because I'm not sure what the parents think of me. They tend to hide in their houses away from me, but they do let their kids come out. I'm hoping to somehow get to know them a little bit better soon.

#13. Seth, Jarod, and I volunteered at our church's VBS week. Micah, Gideon, Titus, Isaac, Abigail  and Olivia attended it. I had an awesome crew of 11 boys and 2 girls. They were all sweeties, although most of the boys, of course, were a bit rowdy. I get the feeling that my being a boy-mom to 6 had something to do with the number of VBS boys which were assigned to me. It's just as well. We had a good ole time together. Whenever things got too crazy, I just had the boys give me push ups and run laps, and they were fine. Also, I bribed them with candy. (Are you seeing a theme here? And you thought I was super-mom. Little did you know, it's all because of candy.) And money. Can't go wrong with candy and money. The little sweet hearts just used that money for the VBS mission, Water of Life (, so families in Ecuador can have clean water for life, and stop getting sick from drinking dirty water. Something we Americans take so for granted. There were 460-plus kids at VBS, and those kids (and their families) raised enough money for 89 families in Ecuador to have clean water for life!!! I am always so touched at their loving little hearts, and the compassion they feel for those who suffer. I think I end up learning more from them than they do from me.

#14. Mommy got sick with a cold. After a week of little sleep, and exposure to 460-plus sweet, lovable, cute, walking little petri dishes, it was bound to happen. And most of the family caught it from me, but it wasn't a terrible cold, and we're all mostly better now.

#15. Uncle Joshua, Auntie Heather, Auntie Jubilee, and baby cousin Aiden (from Justin's side of the family) came for a lovely visit. My little nephew Aiden is only 17 months old, and tiny, but boy is he a whipper-snapper. He can talk like no one's business, he is agile and athletic, and runs as fast as his 3 year old cousin. He goes down the biggest slides fearlessly. He. does. not. ever. hold. still. He did let me hold him and kiss him, however, while he was eating a cookie. (ATTN: Heather and Joshua, I really did have a cute picture of you up, but I accidentally deleted it on Blogger.......and I just can't add it back in without risking more Blogger problems. That will directly impact my sanity, as I have been fighting with Blogger ALL DAY. But I love you guys.)

#16. Uncle Ted (my baby brother) and Auntie Rachel came for a visit. It was short and sweet, but I was very happy to spend some time with them.

#17. Had an awesome 4th of July party at our house, with lots of awesome friends and family. 

Checking out a frog:

Justin's work picnic was apparently a test of manhood.
Gideon needed a hug from Mommy when it was all over.

My VBS crew: the Yellow Parrots. It was kinda sad saying goodbye to them the last day.

My OTHER crew to take these ones home with me.

"Um, excuse me, Auntie Heather. You might want to stop taking pictures of me and go see who is yelling, 'help!' in the water." Yup. That's how articulate and smart my nephew is.