Baby Babble

Little A is a talker. He can’t say much yet, but he sure tries. I love it. Those little syllables all strung together that mean something to him as he looks at the doggy and kitty pictures on my computer and points to them. The way he oohs and aahs with pitch changes as the music plays as his way of singing. It is all so adorable.

I do miss this with my little ones. Of course, there’s always the frustration part too. He wants something, but can’t tell me what it is, so he gets frustrated while I try to figure it out. Food? No… Drink? No… Tired? No… OH! He wants me pick him up and dance!

I hear actual words from him sometimes too. When we drop Jeremy off at the train station, he yells, “See ya!” and he says “Kitty” and “Doggy” when he sees pictures of them. He says “Train” and “choo-choo” when the kids pull out our Thomas track and he always yells for “Jayz” (James) if he can’t find his big buddy. Hearing him say new things is always exciting.

I love having a baby… er, toddler around.

Guinea Pigs

I don’t know what I’ve written about these little creatures here. I’ve kind of forgotten.

Christine got a pretty little tri-colored female guinea pig for her birthday. She named her Cream. A few months later, we heard about someone who needed to get rid of their guinea pig because the mother was allergic to it and the girl was too young to really take care of it properly. James had been helping take care of the different pets we already had here in the hope that he could have a pet of his own, so we said we’d take the guinea pig for him. We didn’t tell him about it, so when our friend brought the animal into our house, it was a surprise. His is a cinnamon colored female whom the girl who previously owned her called Chocolate. He decided to keep the name.

So, we now have Cream and Chocolate. We get them out of the cages and let them run around the living room. They are social and like to talk to us in these squeaks that sound so enthusiastic. It makes me smile. One of the things I find really funny is that Charlie, my big kitty cat, is afraid of them. Cream will run around the living room chasing Charlie. It is quite hilarious. Chocolate is older and less active, so when she’s out, she slowly walks around.

I think guinea pigs are good pets. Both James and Christine take care of them and I have never had to feed, water, or take care of the cages. Jeremy had to make sure Cream was fed once when the rest of us were gone, but otherwise, the two owners have been very good at caring for their pets. They get them out for exercise, they cuddle them (the guinea pigs both like being cuddled), and they talk to them.

I’m proud of my children for the responsibilities they’ve taken with these pets.

Photo Editing…

Up until recently, I’ve been using Gimp to edit my photos. I’ve loved learning how to do different things with it. When I got this new laptop so I could work on my pictures, Jeremy and I talked about photo editing software. We discussed getting Gimp again and just continuing to use it, but I was wanting to do more with my pictures, so we looked at both Photoshop and Aperture.

After checking out the different things you could do with each, I decided to get a trial version on Aperture. Initially, I enjoyed it and it could easily do the basic editing that I need, but I had trouble figuring out how to do anything extra.

Now, I have a trial version of Photoshop Elements 9. I’ve been working with it for about two weeks now and I’m enjoying learning new effects. I really like this one and I think I will be purchasing it when the trial is done. I’m slowly going through pictures from the last year and seeing what I can do with them. I’m playing with one or two pictures a day. It really is a lot of fun for me. If you want to see what I’ve gotten so far, here is my collection.

Noelle and Jesus

That’s kind of how my weekend was… Noelle and Jesus.

First, on Saturday, she asked if she could go out on a one-on-one time with me. It’s been a while since I took a child out on a fun date that I thought it would be a good idea. After a trip to Target for supplies we needed at home, we headed down to Oberweis and got her a strawberry milkshake and a turtle latte (decaf) for me.

We wanted to find something active to do, but we weren’t sure what so I just started driving around. We went a little further down this one road than we’ve been before and saw “The Shrine of Christ’s Passion”. It’s a pathway that follows Jesus from the Last Supper to the Ascension. It was a little chilly out, so Noelle and I weren’t able to spend as much time at each station as we would have liked, but we did talk as we walked. She has so many interesting ideas and thoughts… to listen to a child talk about Jesus and what He went through during that time was a very learning experience for me. I am amazed at what she already knows. We had a few problems because this is done by the Catholic church and so a few stations I was unsure of what they were, but other than that, it went very well. It was a nice beautiful walkway and we both want to come back when it’s warm, so we can take our time and maybe spend time at each station. I would like to have time for prayer and contemplation sometime also, so I may come by myself or with Jeremy.

On Sunday, Noelle was sick, so she and I stayed home from church. While the others were gone, she picked a clay-mation movie about Jesus to watch. I really enjoyed listening to her talk about things as they happened in the movie or answering her questions.

The thing that seemed to really get to her was how much Jesus suffered. She talked about how she noticed at The Shrine that He wore the crown of thorns and it must have really hurt His head and that falling while carrying such a heavy cross would have given him boo-boos much worse than the ones she got when she fell the day before. She also noticed the marks on His body where He’d been whipped and talked about the stinging like bees. Then the nails in His wrists… she was very observant of all of these things. A child of seven and she sees these and somehow she understands that He did that for us. She really amazes me.

Now she is asking to be baptized… time to talk to the Pastor at the church and set up a time. I’m so proud of my girl. It’s been about a year since she prayed and accepted Jesus as her Saviour and I’ve seen such growth in that time and she is so eager to learn. She opens my eyes with what she sees with her own.

Song Inspired by my Cats

Catnip On the Floor

Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around
Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around

Spread it here and spread it there
Get it all in our hair
Swat the toy through the stuff
Make sure it’s in the fluff
Hurry now before we’re found
Catnip is on the ground!

Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around
Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around

Get into our stance and give a big pounce
Let’s get every ounce
Jump on the couch and jump on the chair
Jump on everything everywhere
But don’t make too much sound
Catnip is on the ground!

Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around
Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around

And now we jump (Jump!)
And now we run (Run!)
And now we roll (Roll!)

And now we jump (Jump!)
And now we run (Run!)
And now we roll (Roll!)

Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around
Catnip on the floor
Every kitty roll around

Catnip on the floor!

Cross-country Skiing

I kept this for last. I probably can’t put into words what this experience was like for us, but I’m sure going to try.

The girls all wanted to try cross-country skiing. I am the only one who has ever done it before. It was quite an interesting experience. There was laughter, crying, frustration, and determination. We had to have teamwork a few times to get someone up who fell. It was quite interesting.

I wasn’t sure how Amie was going to do at first. She got frustrated at the beginning trying to figure out how to get the shoes into the skis. Then at the first hill, which was the steepest of the whole thing, she didn’t want to go down it because everybody else went before her and we all fell. We finally got her to take the skis off and walk down it and then put them back on. Not far along the path, there was a hump to go over. I and the other leader both were able to get over it okay, but none of the girls did without falling or rolling. Amie just had an emotional breakdown here, she didn’t want to do this anymore. She was so afraid of falling. The other leader and I talked and if Amie decided she didn’t want to go any farther than I’d take her back. She took off her skis and carried them and her poles and followed along with us for a while. When we got to some deep snow though, she found she couldn’t walk. I turned myself around, preparing to head back when she decided she’d give skiing another chance. She went the rest of the way on the skis until we came back to the hump and the hill. She took the skis off for those, but without any fussing.

The other girls did their best. There was a lot of falling, but they kept laughing. It was good to hear them laughing even when they said it was so hard to do. At the end, one of the girls went down into a copse of trees and got stuck, so I took my skis off and went down to help her get up and untangled from the trees. As we were there, another of the girls started down the same slope and the one I was helping said, “You’re going to end up running into the trees too!” Well, a moment later, I find one ski on one side of me and the other ski on the other side of me. The girl probably would have landed on me if a tree hadn’t been there to stop her. We all busted up laughing. It was kind of funny. After she got up and moved, I finally got the first one standing and somehow got her skis turned correctly.

One other thing that happened… while we were out there, we saw two boys skiing by themselves. They were off-path because they had wanted to ski on the lake. We were concerned about them. With all the falls and all that we had, we expected them to catch up to us, but they never did. The other leader asked for me to finish taking the girls back and she’d check on the boys. It was a good thing she did. They had fallen and couldn’t get out up and their fingers were too cold to get the skis off, so they felt like they were stuck. They were still not on the path when she found them. The sun was starting to go down and it wouldn’t have been easy to find them later. She helped them up and stayed with them until they got back.

I don’t know if I really conveyed what we experienced, but I sure tried. The girls have decided that though this was the hardest activity they did, they want to do it again next year and see how the kids who will be new to the camp do. They said it will be an initiation to camp thing to do every year. I’m glad they are determined to try it again.

Tubing Hill

There isn’t a lot to say about this, but I’m taking the time to think through each activity we did.

On Saturday, we went to the tubing hill and there were so many people there. I saw crashes down at the bottom, so I opted out of it. There was a small incline at the end to help with slowing people down and I stood at the top of that with my camera and took pictures of the others as they had their fun. As I was standing there, I saw a lot of people with winter boots that had no real tread on the bottom, so as they were trying to climb that incline and get out of the way of others coming down, they kept slipping back down. My boots aren’t really snow boots, but are riding boots and so have good tread on the bottom. I would go down the incline a little and pull these others up. It kept me busy in between taking pictures and kept me moving so I didn’t get too cold.

On Sunday, most of the groups left after the session, so there weren’t many people at all at the hill. The other leader took my camera and let me have some fun. It was a blast and I was glad I got the opportunity to do that too.

I have to say… every time I let the other leader have my camera, she got some good embarrassing photos of me. hehehe

Horseback Riding

When I was little and we lived in rural Tennessee, one of my mom’s students would bring his two ponies over and I’d ride one of them bareback. I loved it and have loved horses so much ever since. When I found out that you could go horseback riding at Spring Hill Camp, I definitely wanted to do it. We talked to the girls and everyone was up for it, so on Saturday morning, we went and signed up to do it.

Our allotted time for riding was 12:30 to 1:30, just before our lunch rotation. Small group sessions ended at noon, so we hurriedly walked across the camp to the stables. We each got riding helmets on and waited for all the other people who had signed up for the same time. We were given a short intro on how to ride and use the reins and then we were split into groups of 10 and told to find the horses we would like to ride. I found a pretty mare named Becky for mine.

We mounted our horses. I was given steps to get up on Becky even though I know how to mount a horse. Apparently, Becky has a bad back and though she can have someone riding on her, the traditional way of mounting is hard on her. She was eager to go and tossed her head a bit, but was good and obeyed the signals I gave her that she had to wait where we were until the others were ready. Once we were out on the trail, she was so sweet. Most of the time, I was able to let her have her head and didn’t need to really do much except hold the reins and talk to her and pet her neck. She did try to go off track once when there was a turn and she decided to try to take a shortcut, but the snow was deep and footing was uncertain, so she quickly obeyed when I pulled her back onto the trail. Because she was such a good ride, I was able to take pictures as we went along. I couldn’t put my camera up to my eye and look through the eyepiece, but I did point and click and hoped I got good shots. I got a few duds, but I also got a few good ones.

When we were done, we all talked about our horses and how each of them acted. It was fun seeing the different personalities in the horses show themselves and how the girls reacted to them.

I have to say… this will probably be something some of us want to do every year we are up there. It was a wonderful experience, riding through the snowy woods and seeing how beautiful it was.

Big and Small Group Sessions

The theme for the weekend was Thrive.

For our large group sessions, they always started with a silly skit thing called Thrive Action News. They had little punny news stories and a meteorologist come tell the weather in a monotonous tone… “It’s cold and wet and well, cold.” He was pretty funny. Then they had these two girls who would do impromptu songs about what was going on during the weekend. We would watch a small video about what the theme for each session was.

Session one: Learning what thrive means
Session two: Thriving by relying on our Source
Session three: Thriving in our community, helping others to thrive
Session four: Thriving to bear fruit

After that, we had music. The band was Royal Taylor and they did a pretty good job. I forgot how much I love the excitement and energy an auditorium full of teenagers eager to worship God brings. Singing and dancing and signing to the words of the Praise and Worship songs… I love being able to just be me, worshipping God as if no one is around, but still feeling that connection with the others around me as we are all lifting our voices to Him.

Last, we had our speaker. Her name was Jenniffer Dake. She was a very good speaker with some very interesting stories that are not easily forgotten. This weekend we heard about a dead dog in a suitcase, cockroaches, cool whip vomit, and a grieving daughter boldly proclaiming her faith in a public school. She also gave us words for each letter of thrive.

T = Trusting in God as our Source, relying on Him.
H = Holy… striving to be holy as He is holy.
R = Rooted in the Word
I = Identity… knowing who we are in Christ and sharing it with others
V = Victory… having and sharing the victory of going to Heaven.
E = Everyday striving to continue to thrive.

She said she thought about also using Eternal for E, so I guess it was both, but to me, “Everyday” seemed to fit this weekend better.

After each of the large group sessions, we had a small group session where our little individual group would meet in one of our rooms and we’d talk about what we learned in the previous session. I was encouraged listening to our girls talk. They had such good deep discussions and we usually stayed in small group session for a good 15 minutes longer than was scheduled. It was very good time for us.