The week of July 14th was as much as "return to normal" as it's going to get for us this summer. Which really only means that we are actually sleeping in our own beds at our own house - (at least some of us are). Which also means we got to have Whitley back in our presence.
Traig and Brayden were both staying at Harlow - this was Brayden's first week to serve out there and given all of his leisure and fun, it felt good to kick him out and have him give of himself a bit. ;) Nati, as a Counselor Apprentice (CAP), got to be dropped off every morning at 8am and picked up again at 5:30. Which left me with Mikayla and Whitley - and a big blessing - Ellie volunteered to stick around for the week with me too. She knew we'd be meeting up with Michele again on Thursday, so she was content to hang at her aunts with the fun happenin' and given Michael and Michele some rare "empty nest" opportunities.
Michele ended up spending the night Sunday night just to make sure the migraine I had from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening was fully gone. Bless her. It was, but I was definitely feeling the classic "hungover effects" from it - and just knowing she'd be around in the morning were I to wake up feeling horrible gave me a lot of peace. As it turned out, she left relatively early - but, not before indulging Whit is some "bouncy" time.
Michele also helped me pull down these special treasures from the attic before she left. My collection of vintage "Little People". Oh, the fun and HOURS we had playing with this. Sadly, my own kiddos never really embraced it that much, but Michele's did - so her collection is probably triple what you see here. (With the help of Ebay) =) Whitley was definitely intrigued and we'll keep it around - but she's much more of a "busy girl" than a sit still and play with toys kid - so even all of this only kept her occupied for about 10 minutes.
That being said, a swing will keep this girl happy for much longer than 10 minutes. So, we headed to Crescent Park that morning. This was one of the rare times she chose to be out of the swing and do some sliding with her "cousins".
On Tuesday, we promised to bring our boys some Dutch Bros. drinks (along with a few leaders that so deserved it) - and we couldn't leave Whitley out of the mix. I have a feeling now that we've accommodated this indulgence, she'll expect it every time we hit that drive thru. =)
It was predicted to be a very hot week. That's almost as bad as rain in terms of playing with Whit, because once you pass the noon hour, it's just to uncomfortable to spend any amount of time on the trampoline or want to visit a park. It makes for a VERY long afternoon, though, when she can't comprehend why we won't let her go outside. So, I set up the kiddy pool. It kept us busy for a while - but was only used for that day. Why? Well, that would have to do with returning home from an errand only to find Sydney all wet - I think she felt like she had every right to use it too. Oh....somehow that makes the idea of hopping in again for Whitley kind of gross....
This is why I proclaimed Wednesday to be a "stay-out-of-the-house" day. We started out at Lone Pine Farms. Can't get enough pics of the girls with goats...
...and yes, bunnies too... Whitley really wanted to be able to pet them.
The playground at Lone Pine was packed, so after loading up with lots of produce, we hopped over to Awbrey Park - a new one for us to visit with Whit - that ended up being a great choice as so much of it is shaded. Lots of swing time (perfect for me to multi-task and be able to have a great phone catch up time with Julie) - and some good slides too.
Whitley's been doing a bang-up job of napping these days. It really is a favorite time of mine as she'll happily walk in to Mikayla's room with me embracing "Night night". Steph eradicated the "bottle" from her life the first week of July, so she'll ask for "sippy cup water" and now instead and, along with her binkie, contentedly take her position on the bed. I lay next to her with one hand playing with her hair, the other over her belly and it's usually less than five minutes and she's asleep. And, then, another five minutes and I am too! This wreaks havoc with my sleep cycle - especially when Whitley's naps have been exceeding two hours - but, seriously, how can I resist??? IT'S SO COZY!!!!! I was about half and half on my success rate to nudge myself away this week - and, she seems to sleep longer when I'm next to her, so there's that justification too. ;)
On Wednesday, after a particularly long nap, upon waking we headed to Old Navy and on to Papa's. We had the indoor play area to ourselves at the 4pm hour - I can't imagine why as it must have been a pleasant 95 degrees in the unconditioned room (lot of windows, but that's not a big help...).
It's a good thing Whitley is a fan of pizza so we could use that to pull her away. Her little face was so red from being so hot in there, but she was so happy.
On Thursday, we had planned to meet up with Michele in Corvallis to go to the Osbourne Aquatic Center. However, plans changed abruptly at around 4am that morning when Nati was awake throwing up. Oh bummer. Not a big shock, though - this "estrogen-favoring" bug had already taken out my mom (who'd watched Ellie when she was sick), Michele got it on Wednesday, so based on its incubation, it was prime time for Nat to get it too. She probably rebounded fastest, as she was full of all sorts of energy Thursday night - but that's after spending the previous 24 hours sequestered in Brayden's room just trying to sleep it off. (It also explains why she came home from camp on Wednesday absolutely exhausted).
So, Thursday was spent instead with Michele arriving around 11am and then her, myself, and Whitley doing some grocery shopping for camping. I think that agenda worked better for us all anyway.
Before all of that unfolded, though - I made the best decision all week by taking Sydney for a walk before even Whitley was dropped off. Oh my goodness, how my introvert soul needed that tranquility, quiet, time for reflection and worship. And my body relished the exercise along with all of the sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of this time of year (tastes courtesy of the 3 blackberries I picked and savored en route).
One of the worship songs (playing when I took this pic) was about being still and knowing God is God and in control of all. I know those are songs typically considered when life is rough - but, it's especially significant to me when life is awesome and fun and non-stop - and busy and crazy and happy. That, even with all of the circumstances turned up to "high" it doesn't mean the place of peace within your heart - JOY - is there too - not without God being the One I'm setting my foundation upon. These times of reflection are hard to steal away, but so essential.
Quiet times like this are also necessary right now as there are so many people in my life facing "prayer-is-needed" circumstances. Many of our CCF friends just left to spend 6 weeks serving in Bolivia with our own age former CCF pals who now live down there and run numerous ministries.
Danielle (Java) is heading up a team that will leave this next week to Belarus - where they'll be "teaching English" - and hopefully igniting a love for the Gospel in a place where it's not allowed to be spread.
And, in an even scarier destination, Julie leaves in a week with a "Surfing the Nations" team to North Korea. Yes, NORTH Korea. I'm not even googling insight on that place as I already know too much to consider how unsafe that is. But, it's a rare opportunity for a program like STN to be "invited" to teach youth there - so they are embracing the call.
Finally, a shout-out to my blogging friend, Sara, who will marry off her oldest son, Jason, on Friday. Between prayers for no rain at the outdoor ceremony to just how a mom's heart accepts this transition - much less for the bride and groom! - it's been an honor to keep her in my prayers as she journeys through this next big life adjustment.