Friday, August 31, 2012

And the End Draws Near...

If you haven't heard of the song "Bad Day", I put up the video so you could get that song in your head as you read the "new lyrics" I've written to the tune of this song's chorus:

So, I've had a fat summer
the scales don't lie
movie theater popcorn
has gone straight to my thighs

I've had a fat summer
wanting no one to see
wearing black hoody sweatshirts
when it's a hundred and three 

I've had a fat summer
but post labor day
I'll be hitting the gym
to sweat the pounds away...

It's been a fat summer.... 
It's been a fat summer....

Yes, it's obvious I'll be winning no future awards for songwriting.  That's okay - I had fun the other morning playing around with the rhyming.

If you've read this blog for any time at all, you'll notice that I'm pretty seasonal, traditional, and not one for a lot of change.  So, it comes as no surprise that I find myself at the end of August at the heaviest weight of the year.  It's pretty predictable.  August is the one month of the year that both Michele and I give ourselves permission to let everything slide.  We know that change is in the air with the kids going back to school, and therefore getting back into the grind of routine and fitness as soon as they do.  But, up until that point, the average of working out three-five times a week goes out the window, and the calorie intake WAY escalates as we take in all those things that are normally "out of bounds".  At any given point of time, I can be within a fifteen pound range.  I'm guessing I'm at least 15 pounds up from the point that I left for Maui in April.

But, that won't be verified until Tuesday morning when I face the music on the scales.  And immediately return to the gym (for the first time since June) - to make up for all of the damage done.  Until then, it's still party time.

And party it will be as we nestle in for our annual Labor Day Weekend at the "Schilling Lodge".  It's good to get away from Eugene for a bit, though it won't be long for John and Michael as I gave up my UO Football ticket for him to go in my place to Autzen Stadium to see the Ducks take on Arkansas State (any thoughts on that school, Sara?).  It will be televised, so I'll be glued to the tv with Michele here in Dallas.  It was a bit of a tough call to not return with John to be there for the season opener, but the coziness factor won out, ultimately playing in to my desire for all things gluttonous right now.
(Not to mention the horror of having to exercise prematurely by going up and down all those stairs in the stadium!)

I really do feel like the end of August (the gluttony gets worse as the month goes on) is spent with a bit of dread for what is right around the corner.  While I LOVE the season of fall and all things "Harvest" - the school year is not welcomed.  As we picked the boys up this evening from their final day at Harlow (on the last day the camp was open), the boys were very sad, wishing aloud that they could just live there all year long.  Oh, how I wish.  But, there's a lot of life experiences both of those boys have yet to face that comes with the adversity of the school year.  And, let's face it, it's kind of time for all of us to step back up within the realms of responsibility.  This week I took a nap every morning after getting the boys to camp.  The more I sleep, the more I want to sleep - likewise with eating.  Honestly, I feel like my body is so lethargic, with so little energy - it's crazy how fast I've deteriorated.  Even if it weren't about how icky I feel as I look in the mirror, these habits certainly affect my health and general well-being.

It's been fun while it's lasted - I'm ready to enjoy the next three days to the fullest, but come Tuesday morning - it's all gonna change.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Camp Harlow's End of Summer Banquet

If you've spent any time at all serving out at Camp Harlow, then you are automatically qualified to participate in the annual end-of-summer banquet.  Even though Brayden helped last year at spring break, we had other plans - and frankly, I'm glad.  This year, he was "official" - serving during the summer (He still has one more week to go as well...tomorrow they are out there again for the last week Camp Harlow offers) so that let him go into the evening for sure knowing that he belonged.

Brayden, Traig, and Andrew were VERY excited about participating.  It was an event that would last for over four hours, full of dinner, dessert, individually themed tables - and lots of other stuff that I'm not sure what it is - because parents don't get invited, and Brayden "gets tired of talking" when it comes to giving out details.  

I've asked for the camp photographer (Leah...aka Olive...who was at our house Thursday night as part of the Impact Team) to provide some additional shots of the evening.   Hopefully I can add more photos to this post.  Dave had asked John to come in and take some pics of the event, but when John got there, he felt like this was something the boys needed to have as their own rather than invading on their time and territory.

The "serving" hierarchy out at Harlow goes something like this:
From top to bottom:
-Dave Mertz - Camp Director
-Andrew Bullock - Ministry Coordinator
-Impact Team (about 18 people) - Including Dean of Men, Dean of Women, Program (Skits/Theme), Crafts, Gazebo (Info Desk), Worship, Elements (Activities), Video, Photography...and more other titles than I can remember - all paid positions.  This is the leadership crew that lives at Harlow all summer long)
-Senior Counselors (18 and older..paid position, live at camp)
-Counselors (16 and older...not paid, live at camp)
-CIT (Counselor in Training, 15 and older...allowed to live at Harlow during service, eligible for four weeks of camp - day camps and Elementary Overnight)
-CAP (Counselor Apprentice, 13 and over - eligible to serve during day camps and unless absolutely necessary, not able to live at Harlow)
-Solid Rock Servants- middle school aged, assistants to counselors during the spring break camp only

Next year, Lord willing, Traig will be a CIT, but Brayden will not yet be old enough to join him.  =(  That's okay - It's just one more week of opportunity, and I would miss Brayden a whole lot if he weren't living with us for five weeks of the summer (including the high school camp he'll be attending).

I can't explain enough to you what Camp Harlow has done and means to our boys.  I can speak mostly of Traig and Brayden's experience, though I understand Andrew's to be similar too.  It is where they excel.  It is where they become the best versions of themselves - and while very stretching and tiring, it is where they most love to be.   On Thursday night, when I left the Impact Team Dinner happening at our house to pick Brayden up at football practice, I had the chance to talk to a few parents about their boys' feelings of how the first week of practice had gone.  I described Brayden's feelings about the difficulty adjusting to the conditioning and one dad told me that in preparation for many new, BIG (as in 5, 11', 286 pounds) linemen joining our team, his son had stepped it up all summer to prepare for the competition to his position.  I was super impressed and a bit disappointed that I couldn't give a similar story for Brayden.  But, the disappointment faded as I pondered what Brayden has been doing this summer instead.  While he enjoys football and wants to do well, it is really not where his ultimate passion lies.  And, as a mom, were I forced to make a choice as to which I'd rather have my son love more - I'd pick Harlow again and again.  (And, I'd appreciate any reminders you give back to me in the upcoming weeks as I see my son potentially try to shine on a team in which he's absolutely the "underdog"). 

So, it comes with the utmost of parental pride to share this next picture with you.  Along with dinner and fun at the banquet comes a plethora of awards handed out to those picked by their peers to be "exceptional" in their category.  Brayden was chosen by his peers to receive one of four "Senior CAPS" awards. 

The award was presented to him by Zach, aka Thor, who runs "Program" on the Impact Team.  Both our boys absolutely adore this guy - and if it were up to Brayden, that's the position he'd most want to have someday.  Zach shared some tender sentiments about Brayden, however, we have yet to hear what they were.  Still waiting for Brayden to not be "tired of talking about it".  Ugh!

So, until I get more details and pictures - that about sums up the Harlow Banquet.  For sure, when the boys returned, it was clear that our son was ecstatic about how the night had gone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday Night Fun

 How could you stay away from a face like this?

Or this?

Or this?

Well, we for sure couldn't and can't....and using the fact that Michael had yet to see and hold Whitley, we got a chance to visit the Whites again on Friday night.

Travis is scrolling through all of the pictures he's taken of Whitley on his Iphone for Michael and Michele to see.

These girls are SO enamored with their new "little sister".  

LOVE this baby girl.....we all do.

Postscript:  A few more pics from Michele's phone taken when we first arrived.  Heather had been on dinner duty for that night, so we all had to wait our turn as she was the one who had rightfully earned the opportunity to cuddle Whitley that night. =)


Friday, August 24, 2012

Second Annual Impact Team Dinner Celebration

Ever since we were asked to host Camp Harlow's Impact Team Awards/Celebration Dinner last year, I've been hoping we'd be asked again.  I even plotted it out on my calendar as to what day I thought it would be again and considered new menu options.  However, when Kimmie did indeed ask us to host again, she requested the same meal as last year.  Okey dokey, Chicken Enchiladas it is.  There were also four attendees that are "gluten intolerant" so that added to the mix in trying to provide them with equal options.  Fortunately, the enchiladas are corn tortilla based so that qualified them.  

We also repeated the "Fruit Salsa" recipe we offered last year.  Terrible picture (they surprised us and showed up a little early, so the pics were gathered mid-visit in a hurry).  11 nectarines, 9 kiwis, 6 cups of strawberries and a pint of blackberries combined with some cinnamon sugar made for the best fruit dip.  Yumm!  I actually peeled and diced all the fruit and put it in separate containers until party time.  Then, I found it worked a lot better to mix in the fruit and sugar sans the blackberries.  The blackberry juice tends to make the mixture kind of dark if you mix it in earlier.  Served with 8 cookie trays of cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips - it was a hit.  (The gluten-free corn tortilla chips....not so yummy....)

Chicken enchiladas - one of four pans served.

Thanks to Pinterest, we realized we could serve corn on the cob to a crowd.  So we set up a corn on the cob station.  What you don't see is the cooler containing 25 ears of corn.  Strip them of their husks and silks, put them in a cooler, add boiling water to cover, close the cooler - and 30 minutes later you've got perfect corn on the cob that can be served for a couple of hours.   Folks who hadn't heard of this before (like me, before this summer), were quite impressed.  It turned out to be the best corn on the cob I've had this summer.

The cornbread station.  Mikayla and I picked blackberries this week and turned it into some amazing jam, along with raspberry jam, blueberry spice jam, and honey butter.  (Since I've started making my own jam, our family can't go back to store-bought....)

Appreciating our side patio space (and the extra fold up chairs we got for this summer).   Where I thought last year's group was special - this group raised the bar way higher.  They were so unified, happy, and encouraged by one another. 

While we had dinner, we asked for the crew to introduce themselves.  They were supposed to say their name, roll at Harlow, and a "fun fact".  The fun facts were indeed random, but there was one theme that was repeated three times.  It became the "relationship reveal" night, where three couples made their "courtship" public - to the surprise and delight of everyone.  Very cool - and we're excited the unveiling happened at our house.  After that, it was time to pass out the "Silly Awards" based on inside jokes throughout the summer.  Owl figurines, "One Direction" poster, a bag of plastic dinosaur toys were among the awards. 

Even though it's August, it got chilly in a hurry once the sun went down.  Starting to feel a bit like autumn as we drug out all of our blankets to share with them.  (Afterall, we are all about COZY!) 

Kimmie got the universal "Womens' Dean" tool, complete with bug killer, flashlight, water bottle holder, and scripture taped all over the broom stick.

Autographs requested from the Impact Team guys to supplement the "One Direction" poster.

One of the three couples announced (Misha and Daniel)...

The crew was given some time to just chill and relax.  Something they didn't get a whole lot of time to do without massive amounts or responsibility while at Harlow.

The "Couples" picture -  that Bronson and Derrick (the guys on the right) felt the need to spoil.

Zach (Thor) and Alyssa (Popcorn), Matt (Kahuna) and Tiffany (Flamingo), and Daniel (Jellyman) and Misha (Noogle).  

Some group photos...

Had to get Dave and Carrie Mertz in there...

Silly shots...

This gal is Ashley (Watermelon) - one of Mikayla's favorites from her stay at Harlow.

After the pictures, the group headed off to our Ben and Mary Cross' (pastor) house for the second half of their awards evening.  There, they'd be having dessert, watching a video recap of their summer, and giving out the more serious set of awards.  That was definitely something we missed being a part of, but knowing it was going to go late, they felt like it would be a good idea to move it out of our family-schedule house into a place they could go on and on as needed.

I felt like it was definitely a success in terms of offering them a "non-camp-food" meal and welcoming home to relax at.  It was a little bit of a hurry-up scenario for me in terms of having to run off to pick up Brayden from football practice, make sure the food was out and ready, etc. - so I didn't really get in any quality conversations.  But, actually, I'm okay with that - as it wasn't about me - it was about them.  Giving them the night off to be themselves and relax - and enjoy.  Given all the smiles and laughter, I think it was accomplished.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Weekend Where We Made the Plans Along the Way

Wow, has that happened yet this summer?  A whole weekend with no plans set in stone?  Crazy!

Of course, the first order of business was visiting the Whites - at home! - and bringing them dinner.  They got home Thursday night.  Unbelievable when you consider the trauma involved Tuesday night.

Brayden actually got to visit the Whites with Heather and I during a brief random visit Thursday afternoon.  Mikayla was at a friends party.  This picture was taken then.

The next morning, when news about our visit slipped out, Mikayla threw a COLOSSAL fit.  I actually haven't seen a tantrum like that from her since she was a toddler.  She was so upset that she missed out on seeing Whitley she cried nonstop for over five minutes.  Poor thing.  Consequently, when we brought dinner for the family later that night, we made sure she was the first to hold Whitley.    (Nice to see her smile again).

On Saturday, we opted to go see a movie.  "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" was our choice and Michael Chase and Heather decided they wanted to come along. 
The movie turned out a lot like I expected - bittersweet.  It was definitely a heartwarming movie.  I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Garner (she's about my age and was a self-admitted "band nerd" in high how she lives her very successful and scrutinized life in public media). 

Unfortunately, throughout the weekend, I'd been dealing with a pretty rough headache.  It prevented me from feeling confident about participating in church in the morning.  So, we took it easy as a family and threw out ideas for how we could spend our Sunday.  Eventually, we decided to go to the Lane County Fair.  This would be a first for our family (at least for them being an age they could remember).  We've done the state fair, but honestly there's been little appeal for me to consider for our more local venue.  However, with the prospect of free admission with canned food and a concert that I thought would be fun, it upped the value.

So, with literally seconds to spare (we had to be there by 1pm)- we made it through the gates with our canned food, feeling successful for saving ourselves $33 (which was quickly spent at our first stop for lunch!).  

After lunch, a visit to the animals.  The goats were very friendly. =)

Out the doors of the animal pens was a Dog Stunt show.  We got to witness this dog jumping 52" in the "high jump" obstacle.  Pretty amazing!

After some ice cream for the rest of the family (I was saving myself for my "Elephant Ear"), we watched these guys.  They are "On the Rocks" and were featured in Season 2 of "The Sing Off".  What an exceptional sound they have...if I weren't starting to get another headache and didn't have family that weren't as appreciative of their music as me, I could have stayed there indefinitely.

Next up, my Elephant Ear (not the greatest life choice) - and an opportunity for the kids to get a couple of rides in.  Actually, Mikayla just participated in the "Giant Swing" with her brother, while Brayden also took in "The Viking Ship"

By the time he finished, I was so ready to leave and get home to ice packs.  =(

Fortunately, yesterday morning, Mom was able to fix me up...oh, I'm so thankful for her!

Also, yesterday evening was the first day of Brayden's final year of Pop Warner football.  He described it as "horrendous" - conditioning week is always the worst.  And, yes, for the record, out of about 27 teammates, again, he is definitely the smallest.  Poor guy.  I'm so proud of him for sticking it out though - and very thankful the temps are in the low 80's, mid 70's this week, compared to hitting the 100's last week!