Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Homemade goodies... chinese food and yogurt... clash of cultures.

Some days are just crazy busy. We didn't have much planned but things just added together to make it busy.
Elizabeth made homemade strawberry lemonade. The kids love this!! We used 3 lemons, a bag of frozen whole strawberries and half a cup of raw sugar, add in a gallon of water. 

My friend owns an acre of strawberries. She gave us permission to come pick all we wanted. The kids were not impressed. We made a game of it, every time someone would complain, someone else would say "strawberry smoothies", strawberries and pancakes", "strawberry pie"... and everyone would go back to picking. 

Love technology. These guys were not motivated to clean strawberries, but some motivated them to keep working...
They cleaned strawberries, while I mashed them and dished them into freezer containers.

We get our milk from a neighbor. She called to tell me they had extra milk available. I decided to try homemade yogurt again, since she had 3 gallons for less then $2 a gallon! The first gallon didn't turn out so well, hopefully I can try again today.
I also want to try making homemade butter with some of the rich yellow cream! 

My kids love Chinese food, but it is expensive to purchase for my entire crew!
So I have a new challenge. Find the perfect recipes for homemade chinese. 

The chicken was easy. Chicken nuggets ($3 for 10 lb bag from local bent and dent)
Barbecue Sauce (1 bottle .99) plus a splash of local honey.
I baked the chicken nuggets and cooked the sauce. Then I mixed the chicken nuggets into the sauce. It WAS AMAZING! 

Then I made the BEST chicken fried rice EVER! The kids think it was almost as good as restaurant chinese.
I had leftover rice, (25 lb bag for $5 at bent and dent) which I fried in butter. I added to cubes of chicken buillion and 1 cup of peas from my garden. I fried it all together then when it was almost done, I added 2 scrambled eggs (from our chickens)


Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 5, sick kids and a long drive home

Thursday night I finally slept all night. I woke up feeling refreshed and relaxed. We had to do breakfast without our STM's. We headed out early in hopes of beating the crowds so that breakfast would be more manageable. Thankfully it went well.

I was feeling relaxed and refreshed so I decided to stay for the daily worship, then head to the balcony for one last quiet time before packing up. I had packed a bit that morning so that I could have more free time.

I had my coffee in hand,  kids all settled in, ready to enjoy worship...

and here comes David and T. Sad eyes met mine...

The dreaded words, Mom, I just threw up.

And just like that vacation was OVER.

We loaded up the van while the kids finished their programing.  I met the rest of the kids at the closing ceremony and informed them, no more. We were leaving as soon as it was over. No lunch or final good byes.

We loaded puke buckets in with our luggage and headed home.

The final results, the kids had a grand time. I had a nice break from cooking and daily routines!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 4, carnivals and talent shows...

Finally a good nights sleep. I spend about an hour walking before bedtime, but the rest of the night was totally uneventful and everyone slept until 7 am.
Day 4 was a fun day for the kids! We had our regular breakfast together followed by worship time. After worship time was the ladies tea, which I was unable to attend. The kids had their regular programming followed by lunch then THE CARNIVAL!

Day 4 was a rough day for me.  I spend some time in my room watching a movie while little ones napped.  Then I hung out in the lobby chatting with random people.  I did eventually join the big kids at the Carnival, which had been moved inside due to the rain. The kids were having a total blast as usual!
They had all kinds of fun things for the kids to do!

There were dress up clothes...

A huge bounce house!

There was face painting

The kids had been begging me to take them kayaking! I promised we would go kayaking and to the snack shop for ice cream during our family time.

They had so much fun in the boats and the kayaks.

Even our friend Joan joined in the fun!

Lee helped her paddle her boat loaded with kids!

We ended the day with chicken barbecue and a talent show!
The talent show is my favorite part of the week! So awesome!

The Captians... 4 of my kiddoes were in this group! Thank you Captain Bridget! 

KAOS, This was Lee's group. It was so perfect for him! 

She sang a beautiful song in spanish! 

Another beautiful song was sung. (my tired brain does not remember what it was) 

Another group singing... 

The Burghart girls! Love watching them perform! 


Through my life, as a widow, as a foster parent, as a sister, daughter and mother, I have learned that having expectations of others can lead to disappointment.

When my son is expecting to go kayaking  during free time and I am expecting him to rest, one of us will have unmet expectations.

When I am expecting my child to be healthy and he instead struggles all week...

When I expect my child to obey and she is disrespectful....

When I am expecting the most relaxing week of the year and instead it becomes one of the most stressful.

When I have expectations of my family, of my kids, and of my friends...

A long time ago I learned that life is much better if you have no expectations of other people. No one else is responsible for your happiness. People do let you  down.

I had high expectations for this week. I struggled to let go of those expectations. I struggled with so many aspects of this week. But reality is reality. I need to come to a place of acceptance.

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. phil 4:11-13

I wrote the above on a day when I was working through the many things of this week.  Looking back over the week, I have come to a conclusion. God needs us to do his work, not on our time table, not just following our own desires but His.  He is more worried about our eternal then our present.  Sometimes this requires us to give up and give in.

I also learned that if we give what little we have to give, willingly or unwillingly. :) God can take that and use it for his purpose.

Day 3, a dinner, a dance and movie

Night number 2 was pretty easy compared to night #1. I was up from 1:30 to 3 tending to kids, then up at 5:30 because Nesiah was awake and singing. I did not want her to wake the other kids, so she and I got up, dressed quietly before sneaking out the door. We got some coffee in the main lodge then came back to walk the circle by our older lodge. It was a refreshing morning. 
The other kids were soon up and dressed, gone are the days of even wishing to sleep in.
We headed over to the main lodge once everyone was dressed.  I had planned to sit and hang with my kids who had been running full force the day before. Instead I had a long chat with the lady who had come to do massages. She is also a single parent and a new believer. 

While she and I chatted, the kids played checkers..

Day 3 is a bit of a  blur. It was not a good day. The kids had their regular programming. I got my hair cut on The Porch. 
I had a beautiful picture of The Porch, where wonderful things like massages, manicures and facials happen.

We had an adult only dinner planned for that evening. It was a delightful evening of fellowship. We had a formal dinner and I did not get a single picture!! This was probably the first time in over a year that I had a dinner out without kids. (the kids were right next door in the main cafeteria)
The tables were set beautifully and everyone was dressed beautifully.

David had fun playing basketball with T. This kid really made David's week wonderful!

After dinner there was dancing.. oh what fun for the kids!

Pictures do not do it justice.. It was so much fun to watch.

After the dance, they had an outdoor movie, finding Nemo. This is one of the kids favorite activities. I was extremely tired, so I put the littles to bed and stayed with them until the big kids were done with the movie. I was thankful for good helpers with my kids!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 2

Day 2 started out at 4:30 am, with an asthmatic reaction to the new furniture, carpet and paint in the beautiful new lodge. I ended up sitting outside on the beautiful porch, chatting with C. The wonderful angel that God placed in my morning.  I chose to stay outside from 4:30 to 7:30 to keep my 2 littles breathing calmly. We chatted and had coffee. It was a beautiful morning to watch the sunrise over the mountain.

After breakfast I sat on the 4th floor balcony and had a long chat with my heavenly Father... I needed some encouragement and refreshment. 

The kids had their day camp style programing after which they met us for lunch.
Everyone was breathing much better. But I had asked that they move us to the other older building. I did not want a repeat of the night before. So we moved...
From this ^^ beautiful 2 room suite to

^^ this one room lodge bedroom.

The funny thing is, the kids did not complain. They all agreed this was "more like camp". It was def more cramped, not nearly as clean and nice as the first camp, but everyone could breath!

We had a fun afternoon swimming during family time. It was fun to see so many families hanging out. There were a lot more families of 4-5 kids then we had seen last year. The kids groups were quite large. My kids were delighted to have so many new friends!

After dinner it was power swing time! My boys had been so excited for this! They had talked for weeks about doing the swing! Sadly I was changing diapers in the bathroom when it was finally their turn to swing. I missed most of it. sigh.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our Favorite Family Vacation day 1

`What it's all about: 
At both U.S. and International Family Retreats, special-needs families receive encouragement and care in the comfort of a safe and accessible family camp environment. They enjoy fun and fully-accessible, age-appropriate activities, along with meaningful conversations with families who understand the challenges of life with disability.

 How it works:
The retreat offers a change of pace where you can have fun together in a safe and accepting environment. You'll be able to get away and enjoy God's creation…you'll meet and fellowship with others who face similar concerns…you'll build lasting memories together as a family…as well as a renewed hope in God. While each camp or conference center has its own unique facilities, every Family Retreat is packed with exciting adventures for the whole family. Several sites have amenities such as climbing walls and ropes courses, boating, hiking trails, mud pits, and a host of other activities to energize the week.

Family Retreat STMs (short term missionaries) must be at least 17 years old. They are committed Christians with a desire to serve families affected by disability. They are flexible team players who are able to offer friendship, support, and general assistance to help families get the most out of their week. STMs must be able to serve the entire length of the retreat and attend training prior to the retreat.

Last year was our first time at this wonderful camp. We were teamed up with Mrs. S and her 4 kids. It is a good  match for our family.

Time for the kids to catch up while I was organizing the rooms. 

My kids and our STM's. 
The Tshirt of the year!  In case you couldn't tell the theme for this year is "hope overflowing".

We took a tour of the new and very beautiful building!

I am hoping to find some time to sit on this balcony with my book and a cup of coffee...

We have two adjoining rooms, a total of 3 twin and 2 queen beds.

 We also have 2 bathrooms, one fully handicapped accessible and one smaller one. So awesome with my big crew!

The non accessible bedroom...

The plaque on the wall, that I noticed after a rather traumatic evening. 

We felt so loved....

Opening ceremony.

We toured the rooms where the kids will be doing programs each day. Lee and his friend T are KAOS.

They are in a class with Mr. and Mrs. H. 

The rest of my crew is in the Captain's group.

 This should be a fun group!

Playing on the playground... the girls loved spinning on the tire swing.

Finished up the evening with a ride on Mr. H's wheelchair...

 We arrived around 3 pm. We were warmly welcomed. Reconnected with the S family... then did a quick tour of the building and the kids class areas.
The kids really wanted to play in the  yard where they had all kinds of fun sensory items set up.  So we stopped for a moment to play. I always feel extremely frazzled on the first day. Despite doing everything possible to make it calm and smooth, I was not really successful.

we regrouped as a family before dinner and I was able to do some unpacking and calming of children...
Dinner was delicious as usual. But the best part is always that fact that I didn't cook it or clean up after!
My 2 youngest get very over stimulated in the loud dining room so it is def not a relaxing experience. lol

After regrouping again,  we headed out for the opening ceremonies. Love their praise and worship music and encouragement.  Following the opening ceremony we had an ice cream social. This is always fun.

My favorite part of the day is the encouraging chats with fellow parents in the trenches.  I also love that no one stares, no one has a problem with Nesiah's noises. It makes for a very relaxing day.