Family Camp – LONG but stick with me!

It has been so long since I’ve shared anything on my blog but have no fear a lot has been happening around our house!  We were incredibly blessed to have most of our family able to go to family camp in Nebraska during the first week in August.  Unfortunately, Phil was unable to get the time off of work so I took our 4 oldest children and hit the road on August 3rd for Maxwell, Nebraska.

We were all set to tent camp for the week when Phil’s brother Andy and his lovely girlfriend Renee offered to let us use their RV that they had just purchased a couple of weeks before.  Check out this beauty!

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Yep, I drove that about 600 miles round trip to Nebraska!  It is a 26 foot RV that sleeps 6.  The kids LOVED taking this to camp and we were truly blessed to be given the opportunity.  THANK YOU Andy and Renee!

Once we made it to Maranatha Camp we checked in and made it to the section of the camp where the RV’s were able to plug in to full hook-ups.  Fortunately, our RV neighbor was able to help me back in the RV and he and his sons did all the hook-ups for me.  Shortly after their help we discovered that they live not too far from us here in Lakewood, CO!  I was so grateful!  Besides being a little overwhelmed with wanting to make sure I got it all hooked up correctly, I was sick and was feeling terrible.  The help was so much appreciated.

Once we got settled in to our RV spot we made the trek to the dining hall for dinner.  I say trek because the tent and RV part of the camp was .66 miles from the dining hall, chapel, gym and most other activities.  Needless to say I got my 10,000 steps in every day at camp having to walk back and forth!

After dinner on Monday I was feeling quite terrible but the girls really wanted to go to chapel with the Davidson girls (they went to Russia with them earlier this year) and I was completely comfortable with sending them half a mile away to the chapel with a walkie talkie in hand and instructions to return to the RV the minute chapel was over.  Jonathan and I stayed at the RV so that I could rest and he watched a movie.

All 3 girls wanted to sleep in the space over the cab.

All 3 girls wanted to sleep in the space over the cab.

I woke up Tuesday still feeling terrible but we made it to breakfast and the morning chapel session.  It rained all day Tuesday so for the free time after lunch Scott Davidson (camp coordinator) hung out in the gym with lots of kids for a few hours and I got to go back to the RV to rest.  The gym is set up with a large climbing wall on one end that the camp staff’s with 2 employees helping the kids with harnesses and climbing up the wall to ring the bell.  Natasha, Mikayla and Jonathan all loved the climbing wall.  They also have roller skating in the gym with free rentals of skates.  All the kids loved the designated skating times.  I met the kids at the gym after resting and then we headed to dinner.  After evening chapel we headed back to the RV to get a good nights sleep.  Tuesday was also Alex’s birthday so I brought along a small cake and we sang to her after dinner and had cake.

Tuesday, August 4th, can't even see the lake.

Tuesday, August 4th, can’t even see the lake.

Belle on the climbing wall.

Belle on the climbing wall.

Jonathan getting ready to go up the wall.

Jonathan getting ready to go up the wall.

Wednesday was such a fun day.  After breakfast the camp coordinators organized the families in teams of 12 for family olympics.  We competed in 3 races.  First, we had to blow up 12 balloons and run one by one across the field to a chair and sit on the balloon to pop it.  Second, we had to carry a plastic plate like a fancy waiter with a ping pong ball across the field and back without dropping the ball.  The third race was all of us on the team got on our knees in a row.  In front of the first person was a bucket full of water and a sponge.  She had to soak the sponge in the water and we had to pass the soaked sponge over our heads to the last person who would ring out what water was left in a bucket until that bucket it was full.  We were soaked by the end but it was so much fun!  Our team did not win but we sure had fun trying!  After those races they had 50 yard dash races based on gender and age and then they played big ball with different age groups.  It was a very fun day and the sun was out and it was very warm and humid.

After lunch there was a boat building contest that Belle wanted to be a part of.  I was able to add her to a team with the Swanson family.  I think there were 12 teams and their goal was to build a cardboard boat with 2 roles of packing tape and then their boat had to make it around the lake with 2 people in it.  It was so much fun to watch.  Belle didn’t get to rid in the boat but she was able to help build it and she really enjoyed the event.   After the boat race we had free time and since the sun was out we headed to play in the lake and pool.  Natasha and Mikayla spent much of this time in the pool but Jonathan and Alex played in the lake and had so much fun.  I sat on the beach and watched.  I was feeling much better with just a sore throat, no head ache or body aches.  It was then time to clean up and head to dinner, then the evening chapel session.  Mike Chapa spoke and he is such a wonderful, encouraging and convicting speaker.

Jonathan swimming in the lake.

Jonathan swimming in the lake.

There were these large swings all up and down the lake.

There were these large swings all up and down the lake.

Wednesday, August 5th

Wednesday, August 5th

Thursday was a bit cloudy and rainy but we sure did have fun again.  Between fun meals with other families, chapel, playing in the gym and wonderful fellowship it was another joyful day.  We were even able to hit the archery field and try hitting targets for about 30 minutes.  Friday came and we got the RV packed up, headed to breakfast, chapel and then lunch and then said goodbye.  I was ready to get home but I truly enjoyed every single minute of camp… even being sick.

Jonathan trying archery!

Jonathan trying archery!

Natasha trying archery!

Natasha trying archery!

Belle loves Archery!

Belle loves Archery!

As for chapel, you might be thinking that 7 chapel sessions in one week would seem like too much but Scott and Andie Davidson really put a lot of effort into reaching all age groups with minute-to-win-it games, musical entertainment, speech and drama and overall interaction with all of us.  The kids actually did really well with all the chapel sessions and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

I loved the people watching…. I saw families with 2 kids, families with 10 kids and everything in between.  One family in particular caught my attention.  One of their sons who was 16 invested a lot of time into his 4 year old sister.  I watched as he helped her do all kinds of things from getting her breakfast plate of pancakes and sausage to her taking a nap on his shoulders.  I watched as other families poured into each other and genuinely enjoyed being around each other.  Now, before you go thinking that this poor 16 year old boy had to raise his 4 year old sister, I also saw him playing board games with his parents and volleyball with the other teens.  I loved seeing this group of people with TEENAGERS who loved to be around their parents and siblings.  Who, although still have to deal with teenage hormones and attitudes, have parents who are teaching them to navigate all the feelings of this season of life and yet still treat their parents, siblings and others with respect, kindness and love.

The drive home wasn’t bad except hitting Denver during Friday rush hour but we still made it home without incident.

Alex and Jonathan sleeping on the drive home from camp.

Alex and Jonathan sleeping on the drive home from camp.

We are already praying about going next year but with the whole family.  I was so blessed to be able to take our kids and enjoy making memories with them.  A big thank you to my mom who paid for all of our meals so that I had a week off of cooking.  And another big thank you to my dear friend June and her 2 sons who did our paper route for us so that we didn’t have to do it when we returned Friday evening.

We missed daddy, Katherine and my mom but I know my mom took good care of them.

Thank you for hanging in there on such a long blog post!

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Summer Fun!

I wanted to share some of what we have been doing this summer along with a few photos.

We have been blessed to be able to serve some dear family friends of ours by dog sitting their 6 month old puppy named Tally through the end of September.  The first week or so she was so calm and easy going I thought surely she isn’t a puppy!  Well, she is now completely comfortable in our home and I assure you she is a puppy!  I have the chewed up shoes, chair and various other items to prove it!  But she is a lot of fun to play with and is a very social and sweet dog.

Tally in our backyard - July 2015

Tally in our backyard – July 2015

We were blessed to have Uncle Andy, Miss Renee (or as Jonathan puts it Miss Neree) and cousin Jake visiting us.  I wasn’t able to get a picture of Jake… must be camera shy… but enjoy this picture of Miss Renee hanging out with Katherine.  Miss Renee kindly shared her cup and straw with Katherine.

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Off and on during this summer we get to have our friends Chris and Trey join us for the day.  We’ve gone to Pirate’s Cove and the Downtown Aquarium.  These wonderful guys have 2 older brothers equally as fun to be around.  All 4 of the kids in this family have such wonderful serving hearts.  Even though they are teenagers (except Chris who is 9 and Trey who is 12) they have amazing attitudes and have no problem playing with our kids regardless of their age.  We love having them around!

Pirate's Cove July 2015

Pirate’s Cove July 2015

The tiger is actually scratching his claws on the tree!

The tiger is actually scratching his claws on the tree!

Downtown Aquarium July 2015

Downtown Aquarium July 2015

You will notice that Trey in the first picture is walking and does not have a cast on his arm.  However, at the aquarium he needed a wheelchair to get around.  Earlier this week he was mountain biking down a double black or something crazy in Winter Park and tumbled off of a jump.  He broke is right arm in 3 spots… like completely broke… I won’t share the picture of his arm that his mom sent me….WOW!!!  And he has 8 stitches in his right knee.  I got to see that beauty too – good thing I’m not the one that has to clean it!  As a side note, isn’t God amazing?  The fact that He created our bodies in such an amazing way as to allow a completely broken bone to heal itself in 4-6 weeks. That is no work of random chance evolution!  Psalm 139:14  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

We also got to visit with one of our favorite families from our previous church.  They have a swimming pool and trampoline in their backyard and we got to hang out, eat some really yummy food and fellowship.

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Today we got to spend some time with dad and Joanne at our favorite water park in Highlands Ranch.  I didn’t get any pictures of dad and Joanne but they took a good one of our family.  The kids always look forward to spending time with grandma and grandpa!

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And, of course, I have to include a cool picture or 2 of sweet Katherine!

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Katherine July 2015

Katherine July 2015

I will share more once I take the Foster boys on another adventure with our kids.  Maybe we will head to the Wildlife Sanctuary or the Denver Zoo or the Museum.  No matter what we all have fun together!

A New Hair Donation!

Back in October of 2013 Natasha and Mikayla cut 12 inches of their hair and donated it to Wigs 4 Kids.  Two days ago Alex asked to do the same so I cut 11 inches of her hair and will donate it to the same organization.  Alex looks so cute with short hair!  Now Natasha and Mikayla are ready to cut their hair again but it’s not quite long enough to donate yet.

Check out the new Alex!

Alex July 20, 2015, before the big hair cut!

Alex July 20, 2015, before the big hair cut!

After the big haircut!

After the big haircut!

This is the hair being donated!

This is the hair being donated!

We Are Done!

After lots of reading, math, science, history, language arts, spelling and geography we have completed the 2014 – 2015 school year.  We did our annual testing this past week and will receive the results in a couple of weeks.  I view these tests as an indication more of how I am as a teacher rather then how smart my children are.  We came across a few things we had not yet studied but I’m confident the girls were able to figure out enough to answer the question… at least with their best guess!

So, the Wilson household now has a 7th grader, a 5th grader and a 1st grader officially on the books.  We will take a couple of weeks off and will then start with a light schedule which will include reading and math.  We will most likely add the rest of the subjects the 2nd week of August when we start school full time.  We are adding a couple of new curriculum this year and I’m excited to get started!

During our break we will go swimming, visit parks and playgrounds and just enjoy the summer.

What are your plans for the summer?

Katherine July 2015

Katherine July 2015

Katherine July 2015

Katherine July 2015

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Alex, Natasha, Chris (family friend), Jonathan and Belle

Alex, Natasha, Chris (family friend), Jonathan and Belle

Jonathan June 2015

Jonathan June 2015

Mommy with Natasha and Belle at the annual family conference.

Mommy with Natasha and Belle at the annual family conference.

A Last Minute Gift

Back in January I heard that my absolute favorite Christian band was going to be playing at Red Rocks in June.  It’s been 7 years since I’ve seen Third Day in concert so I desperately wanted to see them again.  Plus they were playing at Red Rocks!!!  There is no better concert venue in Colorado then Red Rocks and it had been years, like 20, since I had been to a concert at Red Rocks…  we won’t talk about what band that was… something to do with not driving 55 or something like that ;-).

Anyway, the company that Phil works for during his 2nd job occasionally gives out free tickets to various events around the Denver Metro area and in March Phil submitted a request for 2 tickets to Third Day.  After several follow ups with the company we never heard anything so we assumed that our request was not granted since the concert was Sunday, June 14th.  I was very disappointed!

Sunday turned into a very lazy day with church at home, lots of napping, playing and some work around the house.   I resigned myself to watching Third Day youtube videos with the kids.  Phil, who has been fighting a cold, took some medicine and went to bed at 6:30.  The rest of us were downstairs playing and watching music videos when I hear Phil coming down stairs at 7:30.  His company had called him and was wondering if he was going to pick up the Third Day tickets for the concert that started at 7:00!

Because I never miss an opportunity to see Third Day I grab Natasha and we run out the door to go to the concert.  There were 5 artists playing so I figured Third Day had not even started their set yet.  Because we were so late parking in the usual lots was not an option and we basically had to park at the bottom of Red Rocks and walk up.  If you’ve ever been to Red Rocks you will know that this is a very long walk UP HILL.  Because we left so quickly, I had forgotten that I had not showered that day and my hair was up in a clip.  This wasn’t a cute, sassy up do, no no no….it was a I hope no one notices I didn’t comb my hair today do.  Seriously, I looked like I was going to do manual labor somewhere, certainly not going to a concert.  By the time we reached the top to get the tickets and head to our seats I was drenched in sweat and stunk more then I had at the bottom of the hill.  I was praying that whoever was unfortunate enough to have to sit/stand next to me would have a stuffed nose.  A side note…  before we left I only had 500 more steps to meet my daily step goal of 10,000 and I figured I would finish those up on the treadmill before I went to bed.  By the time I walked in the door at 11:15pm I walked 15, 714…. a reflection of how far we had to walk to see Third Day!  It was worth every step.

We missed Brandon Heath, Phil Wickham and most of Peter Furhler’s performances.  However, we were able to hear 3 songs from Matt Maher before they started changing the stage for Third Day to come on.  Third Day started around 9:30 and Peter Furhler came out and did 2 of his songs with Third Day.  Natasha hung in there until about 10:45 and then we started down the mountain.  I’m guessing Third Day played until at least 11pm.  It was quite a show and one that Natasha and I will never forget.  Natasha was surprised at how loud it was and kept covering her ears.  I was in my early 20s before I made it to a concert at Red Rocks but Natasha’s very first concert was at the most beautiful concert venue in the state.

It was so wonderful to watch thousands and thousands of people lifting their hands up to God and singing His praises.  Thank you Lord for blessing us with this amazing opportunity.

A big shout out to my husband, Phil, for staying up with the rest of kids until their bedtime while he was sick.  Natasha and I made some pretty fun and special memories!

As Matt Maher played.

As Matt Maher played.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

Right when we first go to our seats.

Right when we first go to our seats.

My sweet concert buddy!

My sweet concert buddy!

As we were waiting for Third Day to start.  About 9:00 pm.

As we were waiting for Third Day to start. About 9:00 pm.

Rocks to the left of us.

Rocks to the left of us.

Rocks behind us.

Rocks behind us.

10 Things I Learned About Cake Pops

So…. Belle wanted cake pops for her latest birthday gathering and being the cake making person I am I attempted them for the 2nd time.  For the record, I’m not a fan of making cake pops!  Here is what I learned:

  1. Whoa… time consuming!!!
  2. It is messy getting the batter into the decorating bag to squeeze the appropriate amount into the spot in the cake pop baker.
  3. It’s rather boring cooking 50+ cake pops at 12 at a time.
  4. Bake, cool, chill, repeat….. over and over and over.
  5. If the pops aren’t chilled properly and the covering melted just so the pops fall off the sticks or stay on crooked.
  6. What a nightmare to decorate 50+ pops.  After the first 12 I handed the rest to the girls and said go for it!
  7. I would rather bake, decorate and assemble a 3 tier wedding cake (like I did last month) then do cake pops again!
  8. Did I mention they are boring, time consuming and messy?
  9. Too much work for 1 little bite!
  10. It’s easier to snack on cake pops as you are making them then a wedding cake!

I’m hoping little miss Alex won’t want cake pops for her birthday in August!

Another Blessed Year

I woke up on Tuesday, June 9th and set out to make Phil a healthy breakfast before his long work day.  Too often he is stuck eating cereal for breakfast which is about as healthy as the cardboard box it comes in… I’m not joking… I’ve done the research!

Anyway, as the kids get up they wish their wonderful daddy a happy birthday.  Phil turned 46 years young today.  I am so blessed to have him as my husband and our children are blessed to have him as their daddy.

Phil is such a godly man and he leads our family with grace, kindness and humility.  He seeks the Lord as he goes about his days filled with work, honey to-do lists and daddy please play with me requests.

He loves the lost and he loves serving those already saved and helping them grow in their faith.  This world is a better place because of him.

I love you Phil.  Happy birthday and I look forward to celebrating AT LEAST 46 more together.

Love,
Gaylene

Phil with Katherine

Phil and bike riding

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cutie

cutie

Russia... way back when!

Russia… way back when!

Daddy daughter date with Alex.

Daddy daughter date with Alex.

Russia May 2015

Russia May 2015

In Russia May 2015

In Russia May 2015

2015

2015

2010 ish

2010 ish

2011

2011

The day Katherine was born.

The day Katherine was born.

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