June 25, 2008


The next few days are going to be crazy. I leave tomorrow after lunch (with Jack in tow) to go to a rehearsal for Kyle's cousin's wedding that I'm helping with. I'll stay at my parents' house. Kyle will meet us in there on Friday and we'll all stay at my parents' house on Friday night. We leave bright and early Saturday morning for Cadillac, MI, where we'll meet my family and spend the rest of the weekend with them. On Sunday evening, we'll head to Young State Park to spend a week camping with Kyle's family. All 35 or so of us.

The part that stresses me out the most is packing. I need to pack for tomorrow night at my parents. Then I need to have a bag for the hotel this weekend. Then, we have tubs full of stuff that we're bringing with us camping. I'm so tired from trying to get ready.

June 23, 2008

Bye, bye bottle

Jack has been bottle-free for about a week now and I never thought I'd say this . . . but I kind of miss it. He was always so cuddly when he nursed or took a bottle, but now that he's not taking a bottle, he won't sit still long enough to cuddle. I think I'm going to miss those times, even though in the last few weeks he constantly tried to stick his finger up my nose and in my ear while I fed him.

We had him down to one a day and then last week, I didn't give him a bottle before bed . . . mainly because I FORGOT. I know, right? I just threw my Mother-of-the-Year award out the window. Oh well . . . maybe next year.

Anyway, he didn't seem to miss it so we didn't offer it anymore. Now, our bedtime ritual goes bath - graham cracker and glass of milk - brushing the teeth - story while he falls asleep.

The bright side? No more washing bottles! We only have two bottles because we didn't need them that often. When I stopped breastfeeding altogether about 2 1/2 months ago, I certainly wasn't going to sink money into more of the super expensive Born Free bottles for 1 1/2 months of bottle feeding! As a result, I felt like there were never clean bottles.

It's a little sad and a little happy . . . much like the conclusion every other stage we've flown through over the last year or so.

June 22, 2008

Working hard

Last week, I came out of my office and saw Kristi reading a book in a folding chair next to the swings in the tot lot. I walked over to see what was going on and found this.

Playing is hard work.

June 21, 2008

Rated PG-13 for Some Adult Language

This is one of those stories that blogs were created for . . .

Kyle had to get some supplies from Lansing for the paintball class next week, so we decided to make an afternoon of it and go to the outlet shops in Howell. A few of our staff went with us too. All in all, shopping was miserable for me because Jack was in rare form, but I came home with one story that made it all worth it.

While I was waiting in line to pay at the very first store, there was an Asian couple behind me. They were smiling at Jack (who was fully clothed, by the way) and talking back and forth to each other, but I didn't understand a word of what they were saying.

After a minute or two, the woman looks at me and says, "You son look like he have large penis."


"Excuse me?" I knew that her accent caused me to misunderstand her.

But she smiled and replied, "You son look like he have large penis."

BLINK, BLINK. No misunderstanding there.

What do you say to this? Is there any appropriate response? Was I supposed to ask them how they could tell? Should I have confirmed or denied their estimation? Should I have offered to show them? Should I have been polite and said, "Thank you?"

I responded with nervous laughter. They smiled a laughed a little too. When I left the store, however, my inner-twelve-year-old came out and I lost it. I looked in the windows of all of the stores I passed to see if I could see any of our staff because I couldn't wait to tell someone what had JUST HAPPENED.

I'm thinking that they meant to say something quite different . . . and that what they were trying to communicate got lost in translation. Here are a few of my guesses:
  1. "Your son looks like he'll grow to be a big boy." Perhaps they confused a few, um, gender related terms?

  2. "Your son pees quite a bit." I realized shortly after that Jack had, in fact, peed through his diaper, though the spot on his shorts was so small and mostly hidden by the stroller that I think it might have been hard for them to see.

  3. "Your son's diaper is rather big." I will admit that the shorts he had on today did make his diaper look big beneath them.
I don't know who those people are, and I don't know what language it was exactly that they were speaking . . . but I suspect that I will never forget meeting them.

June 18, 2008

Work at Somerset Beach. It'll change your life.

This is Hannah.

During a low ropes course activity at camp yesterday, a camper inadvertently wacked her in the eye with their elbow. It's kind of hard to see in this picture. I really wish I would have taken a profile shot because it was so huge. Hannah said she didn't even realize that she was hurt that bad until she looked up and could see her eyebrow out of the corner of her eye. The swelling has gone down but the lovely shade of purple has not. The fact that she's wearing a shirt that says "Sweeeet" made it even more glorious. I told her that I was sorry for her misfortune, but it was probably the best part of my day. Fortunately, Hannah is one of the top 5 funniest people I have ever met (for real) and she said it was the best part of her day, too.

I called the nurse and told her Hannah had been talking back again, and I lost my cool. The nurse thought it was funny. Honestly, a lot of people here think I'm funny. It's so good to work with a group of people who are so easily amused. This is the same group of people who think I'm smart because I used the word "hyperbolically" in a sentence last week. I need to surround myself with more of this kind of people.

In other news, we had to go dumpster diving for a bag of costumes that was thrown out because of a misunderstanding on my part. I guess the real joke's on the counselor who had to dress up in the clothes for "Counselor of the Universe" tonight. The life of a program director is so glamorous. Don't be jealous.

June 16, 2008

Dying a little on the inside . . .

A little bit ago, I sent an e-mail to the wrong person. The problem is that it was an e-mail about the person/company that I accidentally sent it to. It wasn't necessarily a bad e-mail . . . because I'm excited about working with this particular designer. It just wasn't phrased the way I would have said it if I had realized where it was being sent.

Luckily, her response was quite gracious.

Moral of the story: Double check the "To:" line before you press the "Send" button.

June 15, 2008

Smooth sailing

Registration and the first night of camp went surprisingly well! Though, I felt like a part-time meteorologist for a good portion of the night as I kept running to and from my office looking at the radar and trying to determine what the best plan of action was for the rest of the night. We were under a severe thunder storm warning but, I kid you not, both systems split in half about 15 miles from camp and went north and south of us. I know that God's goodness is not wrapped up solely in weather patterns but I couldn't help feel blessed tonight.

Once again, we didn't get a Father's Day picture this year. It was so busy and Jack was really cranky. In honor of Father's Day (or so I like to think), he's stopped saying "dada" and has started saying, "Daddd." He practically spits when he enunciates the lats "d" in the word. And he calls for "Daddd" incessantly. Kyle's not home from camp yet tonight, but when we got home he stood by the door to the garage and kept yelling "Daaaadddd." Or if he sees Kyle across the Cedar Center, he'll start calling for him. And of course, he'll only say "mama" when he's crying. I really need to get it on video tape sometime.

Jack only napped for the last 10 minutes on the drive to church and for about 30 minutes in the car while Kyle ran home to get some stuff we needed this afternoon. Hopefully, he'll be able to catch up tomorrow. Even when he's cranky, he's still got a sweetness about him. He'll stop fussing, grab my face, and plant a kiss you me . . . you know, to remind me that it's not my fault and he still loves me. What a great kid.

Speaking of great kids . . . I heard a rumor that my niece, Emma, pulled herself up to a standing position for the first time today! I've gotten used to seeing her a couple of times a week since my mother-in-law has been watching her full time. Now that Kristen and Brett are done with school, I probably won't see her as much and I can't imagine how much she'll have grown between the times I see her now. Maybe Kristen will have to start posting more regularly on their blog (hint, hint).

June 14, 2008


What are kids imagining when they draw some of the pictures that they do?

There's a photographer that has tried to stage and photograph scenes to look like pictures that kids have drawn. What a fantastic idea. While you're there, check out the Bewitched series.

Well rested

I went to bed at eleven last night. I didn't get out of bed until almost nine. I don't know what prompted Jack to sleep so well, but I am so thankful for it. Our first overnight camp starts tomorrow and I was hoping to go into it well rested!

Maybe it was his vaccinations yesterday. His one year check-up went well. He's almost 27 pounds and just shy of 33 inches long. That's pretty heavy, but he was 20 lbs at 4 months old so he's only gained 7 pounds in the last 8 1/2 months. I don't think he'll be a small kid, but at least he won't be a giant. I bought a lot of 24 month summer clothes for him this summer, assuming that he'd continue to grow at the rate that he had been, but his 18 month and 18 - 24 month clothes are still hanging in there. I haven't had to retire any of his clothing in weeks! I hope that Old Navy can stay afloat without our weekly trips to replace his wardrobe.

I got an e-mail from baby center last week that said, "By this time, your child is eating with a spoon like a pro." I'm sorry . . . what? If by "using a spoon like a pro" they actually mean "mashes up his food with it, bangs it against the table and then uses his fingers to actually put it in his mouth," then yes, he uses it like a pro. The doctor said that it was normal for kids his age to still be working at using a spoon. Which made me feel better.

We didn't do a whole lot today. After lunch, Jack and I went into town to buy program supplies for the upcoming week while Kyle mowed the lawn. We ate dinner at camp and then took Jack on his first pontoon boat ride, thus allowing me to practice with my new camera. I'm still learning and I've got a long way to go. Hmmm . . . trial and error, I suppose.

After dinner (side note: I love it that I don't ever have to cook during the summer. Honestly, it's like I get to eat out every night - for free.), we took Jack on his first pontoon boat ride. Uncle Jeff (my brother, who is lifeguarding at camp this summer before he heads to college) even let Jack drive for a little bit. No, he was not wearing a life jacket, but we held him almost the entire time. And there was a life jacket in his size on the boat in case we needed it. So stop worrying.

June 12, 2008


1 : fatigued by overwork : exhausted
: made dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience or by surfeit
3 : me today

June 11, 2008

Someone else's pictures

Kristi worked at camp in the kitchen last summer and at the ranch two summers ago. She applied to be a counselor this year, but we convinced her to spend her summer as Jack's camp counselor instead. It's going SO well. He comes to camp with us and eats his meals with us, but spends the rest of the time with Kristi (though, I like to sneak a little quality time in here and there). We have a trailer that she can take him to for quiet time and naps. I'm shocked at how well he naps for her . . . that was my biggest concern coming into this week. It seems that he naps better for her than he does for us!

It's a little hard because I want to take him swimming and take him to the swings, but I'm so, so lucky to have him close by all day! Fortunately, Kristi takes as many pictures as I do and she took a couple of really cute ones today. I thought I'd share a few . . .

June 10, 2008

As heard just before bedtime tonight.

Me: I loooove yoooou.
Jack: A-do.

Me: I loooove yoooou.
Jack: A-do.

Me: I loooove you, Jack.
Jack: A-dook.

Melt my heart.

June 9, 2008


It seems as though Jack is fond of vegetable oil . . . even in the partially hydrogenated variety.

Can you believe that stinker? Actually, can you believe we haven't moved our baking supplies yet? I'm just glad I caught this before the lid came off.

June 8, 2008

Did you miss me?

It's been a week since my last post, and I'm not really sure where to start. I haven't gone that long without writing since last year at this time when Jack was new in the world. The summer has hit like a ton of bricks and I'm already finding myself counting down the weeks until it's over. Is that bad? I think once camps actually begin, I'll be fine. Here's the week in review . . .

MONDAY was Jack's birthday. Our friends Aaron and Alisha (I went to college with them) came to visit and we met their son Micah for the first time. Alisha and I had the same due date, but Micah is about a week and a half older than Jack. We hadn't seen each other since we were about 18 weeks pregnant. We only got to spend about two hours with them, but it was good to catch up. The rest of the day was spent group building and training our staff.

All day, I was a little emotional thinking back about what I was doing a year ago. I know it hurt a lot at the time, but all I remember is how wonderful the whole experience was. At dinner, Kyle's parents and the Williams gave Jack a birthday gift . . . his very own 4-wheeler. It has a single button that makes it move, and I think he got whiplash because he pressed it so much but didn't understand to hold it down. Nevertheless, it's a gift he'll grow to love!

On TUESDAY we left bright and early on our campout. Jack was a trooper and did pretty well for the 4 1/2 hours he was in the car. I was dealing with severe upper back pain and neck pain. I took an obscene amount of pain killers. We unpacked and set-up camp once we got there. We spent the evening exploring the beach and trails and praying and singing around the campfire. We also found out that the modest bathhouse (with a toilet and a sink) was closed until next weekend. Fantastic. We had to use the outhouses near the beach . . . which was fun. Jack slept pretty well Tuesday night, but ended up in bed with us by morning.

On WEDNESDAY morning, our staff had solo time. Before we sent them out, we talked about prayer and how it's about talking to God, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's just listening. Sometimes things are too wonderful or too horrible to know what to pray. We talked about how we read in Daniel and Romans that prayer is sometimes about being speechless before God. The rest of the day was spent training in conflict resolution, playing new games and getting to know each other better.

Jack liked camping, but it was so muddy! We pulled him around in the wagon he got for his birthday and he got a kick out of that.

On THURSDAY I woke up sick to my stomach (probably from all the pain killers) but thanks to our stellar staff, we managed to get everything packed up before the rain hit. About 2 minutes before the rain hit. We opted to wait and eat a late lunch so that we could get back to camp without stopping to eat. About 40 minutes from camp, this happened:

Do you see the tread on that tire? No? That's because it's not there. We blew a tire. While Kyle, Nate and JD fixed it, the rest of the group waited at the closest rest area . . . wishing we had stopped for lunch.

When we got home that day, I had 1 1/2 hours to shower, give Jack a bath and get ready for the wedding I was taking pictures for that night. The wedding was beautiful but it was HOT outside. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have used my new camera because I was still a little unsure of it. But I think I got some good shots and I hope they're pleased with them.

On FRIDAY it was back to training. When I got home that day, I had a package on my doorstep labeled "Summer Survival Kit." Joy sent me a kit full of supplies she deemed necessary for making it through the summer . . . root beer, pop corn, laffy taffy, a water balloon launcher,
chap stick, gum and the best snack mix ever. She took Cheddar Chex Mix, Doritos Munchies Mix and combined them and took out all the pretzels and then added Combos. It was perfect.

On SATURDAY, we had so much to do . . . the house was a mess, I had e-mail to answer . . . but instead we decided to take Jack for his first trip to the zoo. I guess we just needed some family time. There aren't any great zoos around here, but the Africa exhibit at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek is really nice. The best part is that the giraffes are at eye level and you can feed them but Jack squirmed every time they came near, so I didn't get any good pictures of it!

That brings us up to today. I've had a stressful week, and I don't anticipate this week being much easier. I'm enjoying it, but it's hectic. Actually, if I can make it through tomorrow, I think I'll be able to get things set up for the week that will make the rest of it more enjoyable. Honestly, once staff training is over, I'll be much more relaxed. Thanks for reading . . . and thanks to all of you who left messages over the last week wondering how the campout went!

June 1, 2008

Dear Jack, Month 12

Dear Jack,

We bought you a mini red folding lawn chair this month . . . it's the perfect size for you. When we first brought the chair home, we sat you in it and you looked at us, like you knew that you were SUCH A BIG BOY sitting in your own chair. There's nothing cuter than your face when you're proud of yourself. Except maybe your face when you're laughing hysterically at your dad.

At the beginning of this month, you climbed into your chair by yourself and realized that you weren't quite sure about how to get down. Your toes were only three inches from the ground, but you reached for me and began fussing so that I'd come pick you up. My instinct was to come and lift you out. Because, I'm your mother. It's my job to get you out of chairs when you cry, isn't it? It's my job to fix things for you that you can't fix on your own, right? The problem was that you could do this on your own. I knew you could. You just didn't know that you could.

So, I held my arms out to you and told you that you could do it. I told you that I loved you and encouraged you to come to me. This went on for a minute or two (though it felt like an hour) until you were crying and I was close to tears when suddenly you arched your back, felt the floor under your feet and just stood up. In a split second, you stopped crying and just kind of gave me a sheepish grin as if to say, "That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be." After a quick congratulatory hug, you proceeded to climb into the chair and climb back out dozens of time so that you could practice your newfound skill.

You are so capable. If I had picked you up out of that chair, even though I knew you could get out, I would have been telling you that you couldn't do it. It wouldn't have given you the chance to find out what you can do on your own. You are gifted in ways that we're not yet even aware of and as someone who loves you deeply, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't let you figure some of the small things out on your own.

I know, I know. You're only a year old. I'm still your mom and I'm still here to help you out when you need it. But I also know that there are life lessons that start now. The things we do now are beginning to shape who you are becoming. There will be more "red chairs" in the future and I'll be here to cheer you on every time you feel like you're stuck in one.

Have I mentioned that you love remote controls . . . which means we can't find ours most of the time? I can't tell you how many times you've changed the channel when I was in tivo-ing something. Really, you love anything with buttons you can push. Keyboards, car key chains, my computer, cell phones . . . if you don't believe me, you can ask the Hillsdale County 911 operator that you called from grandma's cell phone last night. That's right, 9-1-1-send. What are the odds?

You say "ball" every time you see anything round and you are slowly learning how to throw one . . . though right now your throwing looks more like dropping. You say "bye bye" and "daddy" but you will still only call for "mama" when you're crying. You now know the signs for the words "more," "please," "thank you," and "all done" but you do them all differently than we tried to teach you. And you do the sign for "more" when you see anything that you want to get your hands on (including cell phones, keys and remote controls). When we ask what sound a dog makes, you start making a "woof woof" sound. Though, in the spirit of full disclosure, I feel that I should let you know that you also make that sound whenever you see squirrels, rabbits, geese or cows. Last night, we didn't get home until 10 PM. When I was brining you into the house, you had your head on my shoulder and were half asleep. We walked in the door and Murphy started barking, you let out a faint "woof woof" without even raising your head. It was precious.

You're one today. Which means I have 17 years left until you're out on your own. This doesn't seem like nearly enough time to teach you everything that we want you to know before then. But let me start with this . . . I really believe the world needs you, Jack. What I mean is that the world needs men and women who love sincerely . . . who hate evil and cling to what is good. People who put others before themselves. People who are joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. This is what we're trying to instill in you. This is what we're praying for you. Because when we come to the end of our lives, whether you're a garbage man or the President or a major league baseball player won't matter. Whether you can run marathons or have amazing vocal range or can solve complex math problems won't matter either. And though we are proud of you, the fact that you crawled at 6 months and took your first steps at 9 months won't really matter either. Who you become as a person . . . what you're doing to serve and glorify God . . . those are the things that have eternal value. And we want you to know that you're capable of doing whatever he calls you to do.

Jack, this year has been happier than your dad and I could have ever imagined life could be. We are overwhelmed at how much our capacity to love has increased. We love you so much! Happy birthday!


Me . . . one year ago, today

This week . . .

Life really starts to get crazy today.

Our program staff arrives tonight for their two-week training to become camp counselors. We go over guidelines and expectations with them tonight, along with a few ice breakers and the ins and outs of their jobs for the summer. Tomorrow we spend the day doing group building initiatives and working on our low ropes course.

Tomorrow is also an exciting day because it's Jack's birthday AND our friends Aaron and Alisha and their son (who is Jack's age) Micah are coming by camp on their way back to St. Louis to have breakfast with us. I can't even explain to you how excited I am about that . . . we haven't seen them since December of 2006! I'm sure I'll have some pictures to share!

Then on Tuesday, we leave on a rustic camping trip at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. With a one year old in tow. All year, I had anticipated this would be the first time that I'd have to leave Jack overnight somewhere, but that didn't really pan out so we're taking him with us. No running water. No electricity. Lots of sand. Twenty college students. And a one year old. This should be interesting.

The wilderness area is right on Lake Michigan and is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. On Wednesday, we send our staff out for some solo time while they clear their heads and their hearts while they listen for what God might have to say. It will be our seventh time taking a group up there and every year is just as meaningful to me as the year before. God begins work when we're up there that he continues throughout the summer . . . it's incredible to see it unfold.

We return on Thursday and I am taking pictures for a wedding on Thursday night . . . it's outdoors and I'm praying for no rain. Kyle has his baseball awards "banquet" on Thursday night as well, so we're hoping Katie will be able to get off work early to come watch Jack. Then Thursday night, we continue with more training sessions. At our house, of course, because it will go past Jack's bedtime. We've hired someone to be a sort of nanny to Jack this summer while we work, but she's also a substitute counselor in case we need an extra girl, so during our training weeks, she'll be in all of the training sessions.

Friday, we have a full day of training and then Saturday we're hoping to participate in the Lake Association garage sale and unload some of our junk. Then the rest of the camp staff arrives next Sunday.

My head is already spinning.