Friday, August 29, 2014

Harlow in Hindsight

It would seem, that with our kids spending the majority of their time at Harlow over the summer, we'd have more to show for it on the blog.  But, it's not like they can walk around with their Iphones and snap pictures in the midst of loving on kids, so I'm left to rely on pics that come up on Facebook, those that friends send me, or in this first pic's case, the Cabin Pics that we pay for the kids to bring home.  

Even though it happened after the girls' week, I'm starting with the boys' High School Camp.  Again, they had a cabin "stacked" with kids that are already leaders - so that these guys can actually spend some time "going deep" with each other.  I love that.  I love that these guys - almost all who serve multiple weeks being counselors and serving, have a week where they are ministered to.  

Leah sent this one to me that happened during the High School camp.  No idea what it's about.  But, the kid with the red sleeve is named Brian and became a fast friend over the summer.  (He also happens to be the brother of my dear college friend, Megan Dougherty - heck of a family).

This was Mikayla's Middle School Camp Cabin Photo.  Glad it and the following pics were taken early in the week so Ellie could be in it.  (She ended up sick and missing camp Wednesday through Friday). 

Elaina came to visit Harlow and see Leah - and they stopped by to see my girls while she was there.

Camp Fires happen on Thursday night.  When it's not an overnight camp, folks who have served, but not necessarily that week, are invited to attend.  And sometimes, even on overnight camps - as in this case when Brayden showed up to join Traig (who was already in attendance) and visit his sister and cousin.  These are the times when things can get deep and spiritual - so we are always happy when the kids want to be there.

Technically, I couldn't put these up on "Social Media" without going against the privacy policy the kids know they have to adhere to.  But, when I pulled up on one early evening to pick up Nati and saw this going on with Brayden (Phineas) - I couldn't help but snap some pics, as it made my heart melt.  And, since the pics aren't close enough to reveal identities - I'm preserving that moment on my blog.

Here's the only pic I have of "Ferb" (Traig) that just happened to be part of the award he received as the one guy chosen to be "Outstanding Counselor" at the Harlow Banquet.  Traig was there every day of camp minus two (sadly, one being the final day when he ended up with Pink Eye).  He absolutely deserved this award, hands down.  He was born to serve and lead out at Harlow....

On other occasions of "Nati Pick-Up" I got to catch some images of love for others - including this love for "Ariel" (Micaela Rahimian) who had been gone for the first half of the summer.  Really, they were especially hugging her because she inspired me to make a run to Dutch Bros to get her a drink the next morning, which meant they all got to enjoy drinks the next morning too.  Dutch Bros drinks hold some major currency out at Harlow. 

The Friday night before the last week of camp is always the Harlow Banquet where the kids dress up and are honored for their service.  It's a night our boys have loved and Nati was excited about finally getting to attend.

These pics are courtesy of Micaela...

...and this collage never got uploaded, but the top pic here is a new one - that got to include "Dave the Wave".

The final week of Harlow ended up being extra special.  We were told that Whitley's cousins, Abby and Hannah, would be experiencing their first week of Day Camp at Harlow.   I messaged Mandy (Steph's sister - the girls' mom) and mentioned Brayden would love to have her girls in his group that he counseled.  I guess Mandy and Rick (Rick, being the assistant principal at Marist) liked that idea as they went ahead and requested "Phineas" for their girls.  Brayden then requested "Jump Rope" aka Nati as his Counselor Apprentice.  PERFECT!  We wouldn't have wanted anything to slip through the cracks with that kind of responsibility on Brayden's part - and Nati is the perfect person to make sure all the T's are crossed and I's dotted.  Plus, we know they already work great together.  =)

From all the reports we got, it was a great week for the girls.  I hope Mandy and Rick got the same report!  =)

I just can't say enough about this place and how lives are changed there - both those of the kiddos in attendance at the camps whose hearts are filled there, or the kids that serve and give of their hearts there. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chuck E. Cheese

Our field trip on Thursday was to Chuck E. Cheese.  When my kids were little, I so lamented the fact that our closest Chuck E. Cheese was all the way up in Salem.  In fact, Brayden's fourth birthday was actually held up there just because it was the perfect place to celebrate a four year old's birthday.  But, then, they did open up one, at our local Gateway Mall - and, because it was past the point of my kids' age preference, I'd never been there.

I knew Whitley was a little young to enjoy all of the different games the place offered, so I figured this was a good one to visit when we had Mikayla and Ellie around for them to enjoy and Whitley to watch.  

Whitley was indeed overwhelmed with it all.  She especially did not want to climb in the play area.  But, enjoyed seeing the girls up there...
Fortunately, there were just a couple of other families there at the 11am hour we visited.  But, we finally found a game she loved...."Feed the Frog".  I liked it a lot too!  =)

She watched another family play Air Hockey, but by this time, we were out of "coins" (as Whitley called the tokens).  

 Too much to take in, but the pizza was tasty.

Not as big of a fan of the carousel...she wanted on, but quickly wanted off.  

Upon time to leave, Whitley was not so pleased.  I was kind of grossed out by her laying her head on the grimy floor - so we took a bath when we returned to the house. 

This place is way too expensive to visit on a frequent basis, but I expect the next time around, Whitley will be thrilled to return...

Leaburg Dam and Fish Hatchery

I made no point of hiding my desire to escape my house all week prior to Labor Day.  With Nati at camp during the days and Ellie staying with us, all three girls did not make "housecleaning" their priority.  Throw in one very active two year old, and the mess was just too much for me to want to deal with day in and day out.  So, we took field trips.

On Wednesday, we ended up at Leaburg Dam and Fish Hatchery.  It's probably a 40 minute drive from our house, so that's part of appeal knowing it helped with just killing time out of these days.  =)  And, the location was a little ways up the river and shaded, so we were hoping it would be a little cooler than the temps in the 90's in the valley.  (Another reason not to stay home....too hot to play outside)

It had been a long time since I'd been there, so I was nearly as much of a newbie as the girls.  We did find a swing set further up into the heavily forested (and beautiful) park, but given we'd stopped at a park along the way - we didn't see the need to spend time there.  Instead we headed to the fish hatchery.

Had to stop at this place just to take a pic.  =)

Then, we went to see the fish.  And they were interesting.  

Look at those guys!

At the end of that side of the ponds, a lady feeding the fish that tipped us off to a trail on the outskirts with a stream and pond full of raised and natural fish.  PERFECT!

Gorgeous setting - too bad Whitley was upset at this moment...

If you look in one of those sunspots, you can see a fish swimming through.  It was really neat!

Whitley thought so too, and was running to catch up with the girls.

A LOVELY pic of my beautiful niece!

Then Whitley caught up with and photobombed....

It looks like she's totally reading the information sign.

Whitley's favorite part of the visit, by far, were the sprinklers.  We spent a good chunk of time right here...

On the way back...

Following our visit, we stopped at the Leaburg Country Store for treats.  We planned on getting Whitley some chocolate milk (she's in love with it!) and some "last-week-before-the-diet-starts" treats for us (well, I guess that diet just applies to me...).    When we walked in, they had an empty "mini-cart" that had been used to display outdated items on clearance.  After we'd found Whitley's chocolate milk and had turned around to find our own treats, we saw this:

She'd chucked her chocolate milk in the cart and was pushing it around ready for us to add our groceries too.  It was sooooo cute!  

When we stepped outside, we tried to take a group selfie.  Whitley was being uncooperative as she'd locked her sights in on my Toll House Cookie Ice Cream Bar (definitely one of my all-time "if-I'm-gonna-cheat" treats).  She wanted it instead of her milk and actually threw the chocolate milk across the parking lot when we tried to entice it to her instead.  

She did get a few bites from me - but only liked the inner ice cream.   And, she polished off her chocolate milk in no time once we got in the car.

This field trip was a huge success!